FPU students speak out for Cal Grant

Government, student and university leaders called on California Governor Jerry Brown to preserve higher education access during a Student Call to Action in support of the Cal Grant April 17 at Fresno Pacific University.

“Cal Grants are not just a line item in the budget—they are futures,” Assemblyman Henry T. Perea (D-District 31), told those gathered in the Atrium of the AIMS Hall of Mathematics and Science on the main FPU campus, 1717 S. Chestnut Ave., Fresno. “Cal Grant students are the ones that need help,” he added.

For the 2015-2016 state budget, Brown is proposing an 11.3 percent reduction to the Cal Grant maximum award for students who will attend private, nonprofit universities. The Cal Grant is especially important for students who are the first in their families to attend a college or university—and some of those students spoke. “Every Cal Grant student is going to make an impact on California in the future,” said Janet Salcedo, a Cal Grant recipient and co-president (with Karina Reyes) of the FPU Chapter of Friday Night Live, the student advocacy group that organized the call to action.

The Cal Grant is the most effective way to help California students help their bachelor’s degree, and 45 percent of FPU students get a Cal Grant. “Most wouldn’t be here without it,” said FPU President Richard Kriegbaum, Ph.D.

State aid to private, nonprofit colleges and universities is a bargain for taxpayers since a high percent of FPU Cal Grant students graduate in four years, then go on to serve the region as educators, business people and professionals. “We are not private and elite, we are private serving the public good,” said Stephen Varvis, Ph.D., FPU provost/senior vice president.

Other speakers included Nathan Alonzo, district representative for Senator Andy Vidak; and Gonzolo Villegas (a 2012 FPU graduate), representative for Senator Tom Berryhill. Friday Night Live has also organized a video and banner-signing campaign. Students will deliver the banner—reading “#wearecalgrant”—to the Governor’s Office Tuesday, April 21. There will also be a video will be distributed via YouTube and social media.