Scholarship confusion

The governor’s attempt to decentralize the process merits support

If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s last-minute line-item vetoes of the July budget revisions fail to hold up in the face of lawsuits challenging them—a distinct possibility, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Counsel Bureau—there’s at least one cut the Legislature should make anyway.

That’s his decision to reduce funding to the California Student Aid Commission, the agency that administers Cal Grants, and to call for the scholarships to be handed out in a different manner.

The governor isn’t trying to get rid of the CSAC altogether, and ultimately seeks to cut only $2 million from its $12.6 million budget. But he does want to create efficiencies by giving individual colleges more of a role in disbursing the awards. The independent Legislative Analyst’s Office has noted the current process has redundancies that waste money and confuse students.

As Dan Reed, interim director of the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office at Chico State, explained it, students get two award notices regarding Cal Grants, one from the CSAC, and the other from their college. The grant amounts don’t always agree, leading to confusion and additional effort and expense to clear up the discrepancy.

College administrators long have supported decentralizing the process, Reed said, believing it will save money and energy in the long run. We agree with them.