Cal Poly's incoming freshman class will not be a part of the university's plan to provide more financial aid to low-income students, President Jeffrey Armstrong revealed in an email to the campus community April 4.
The university announced plans in February to “provide financial assistance for high-achieving, low-income California students who meet Cal Poly’s rigorous academic admission requirements but can’t afford to attend the university.”
The Cal Poly Opportunity Grant would cover the $3,690 campus fees portion of students' tuition — the highest fees in the California State University system, for which there is no other form of state grant assistance. The grant would be paid for by increased fees for out-of-state students, generating $1.64 million in 2018 and as much $24.14 million in 2023.
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At the time of the announcement, the plan was expected to benefit about 149 low-income students in 2018, another 861 in 2019, and more than 2,500 by 2023.
In his email April 4, Armstrong said because of the tight timeline, students entering the university this fall will now not be eligible for the proposed grant, either this year or at any point while pursuing their Cal Poly degrees.
Armstrong added he has "not yet arrived at a decision about whether to go forward" with the grant and corresponding fees for fall 2019 or future years.
"I continue to consider the feedback I've received through shared governance with students, faculty, and staff," he wrote. "I deeply appreciate the thoughtfulness, passion and Mustang pride shown by the 2,178 students who submitted comments as part of the student consultation process. You raised many good questions and concerns. I thank you for your ongoing engagement with this process, and your patience while we assess the feedback and make a careful decision."
Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier declined to share further details on the reasons for the change Monday, saying just that the plan was under consideration.
When asked what happens to students in the incoming cohort who may have expected to use the proposed grant to help finance their educations, only to find out now they are ineligible, Lazier said potential students have until May 1 to accept or deny the university's offer of admission.
He also added there are other financial aid programs available for lower-income students, including Cal Poly Scholars, which provides scholarships for up to five years, a technology package, advising and other support to low-income and first-generation college students from California partner high schools.