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Students, Lieberman protest proposed Cal Grant cuts

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Michaela Bulkley
Staff Writer

The proposed 2015-16 state budget includes an 11 percent cut in Cal Grants, which translates to nearly $1,000 less state money for each new student here.

The cuts would not affect continuing students who currently receive Cal Grants. The proposed cuts – from private universities – would be re-allocated to students at public and state schools.

“They are under the assumption that students that go to private universities have more money, which isn’t true,” junior political science major and Associated Students of the University of La Verne President David Asbra said.

Asbra with other La Verne Students from the University of La Verne were among more than 60 students from private universities across the state who went to Sacramento last month to attend the annual Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities’ Day at the Capitol.

Also attending the Feb. 24 event were University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman, Financial Aid Director Diane Anchundia and Special Assistant to the President Phil Hawkey.

The Association holds the annual event to lobby against cutting Cal Grants for private colleges and universities. They also lobby to prevent future cuts.

“Each year, our staff and students attend ‘lobby day’ at the state capitol,” Lieberman said. “I join them in Sacramento because I truly believe that Cal Grant funding makes an enormous difference in the lives of students.”

Students there shared personal stories about the importance of the Cal Grants for students at private universities. Lieberman has attended the event for three years.

Besides Asbra, two other La Verne students – senior educational studies major Mirrella Bautista and freshman psychology major Jedaun Carter – made the treck to the Sacramento event.

At the event students broke up into groups to share their personal stories with three or four state assembly members to reinforce the necessity for Cal Grants in private schools.

“They coached us on how to present our stories in short but more powerful ways, since we only had a little bit of time to speak with each assemblyman,” Bautista said. “Sometimes there were seven students all wanting to share their stories, so we had to say things they would want to listen to.”

Anchundia chose the students who went to the event. class were chosen, but the sophomore representative could not attend.

“We try to capture a diverse demographic of Cal Grant recipients (that) represents our university,” Anchundia said. “We look for students with a good story.”

“I think it is important to get involved and let Sacramento know how this cut, if it would have happened two or three years ago, how it would have affected your life,” Anchundia said.

While only a few students are selected to attend the event each year, Bautista and Anchundia both said they believe that all students should be involved.

They suggest that students write letters to their representatives to share personal stories of the importance of Cal Grants.

“I had the option to choose between public and private and I feel like other students should have the option as well.” Bautista said.

Michaela Bulkley can be reached at michaela.bulkley@laverne.edu.

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