In what a school consultant is calling a “bait and switch,” the Department of Finance is saying that the money won’t be available until May 2019 at the earliest – and possibly only partially then. The department will release the funding after it’s sure that the revenue projections on which the budget is based came true.
State law protects Cal Grant recipients from tuition increases at UC or CSU: when tuition rises, so do these students’ Cal Grants. Consequently, as tuition has increased and enrollment of low-income students has expanded, the program has grown rapidly. Next fall, tuition is scheduled to increase by $280 per year at UC and by $270 per year at CSU. In addition, UC, which has enrolled 7,400 new undergraduates in each of the last two years, plans to enroll an additional 2,500 in the fall of 2017‒18, the largest three-year increase in seventy years. CSU has added around 50,000 additional students over the past five years. The expansion of Cal Grants has drawn the attention of the governor. He noted in his May budget revision that "rising Cal Grant costs from tuition hikes will also limit the state’s ability to increase General Fund support in the future.”
Per-pupil spending is up 50 percent since Brown became governor, and will top $11,000 for the first time in his new budget. Moreover, much of the new money has been directed to school districts with large numbers of “high-needs” students.
However, Brown, et al, are unwilling to closely monitor how the extra money is spent, assuming that local school officials will do the right thing, or whether it’s closing the achievement gap.
They’ve ignored independent studies by prestigious organizations indicating that much of the extra money is being diverted away from the targeted students.
In a July 2015 report, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York observed a direct correlation between student borrowing and tuition levels, noting that "higher tuition costs raise loan demand, but loan supply . . . [relaxes] students' funding constraints." The Fed spoke of a "pass-through effect on tuition," whereby for every dollar received in subsidized federal loans, tuition rises 65 cents. They report similar findings for Pell Grants (55 cents) and unsubsidized loans (30 cents). As the Fed study indicates, student debt isn't rising simply because college is too expensive. Rather, school is too expensive because of rising student loans and grants. Research by economist Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, bolsters this argument. He found that "when someone other than the user is paying the bills, those bills tend to explode since the buyer is not sensitive to price." In other words, the expansion of student loans and other third-party payments for college leads to higher prices by insulating students from the actual cost of tuition. This vicious cycle leaves many low-income students (who are supposed to benefit the most from financial aid) priced out of attending college.
Fresno Unified School District used state money meant for low-income minority students to pay for police programs, bathroom renovations and other expenses not related to the students, the California Department of Education reported. . . The American Civil Liberties Union has led the criticism of the district’s spending, arguing that the district misspent more than $36 million in special funds, including $5.6 million on bathroom renovations and additional janitors; $5.6 million for a middle school redesign; $3.8 million for school employees; and $440,000 to hire more school police officers and to expand the use of a bullet-tracking system.