154 Colleges Named Cal Grant Ineligible

About 7,800 students who were promised Cal Grants for the 2012-13 school year will have to change schools if they want to receive the state grants because the college they were planning to enter is no longer eligible.

The California Student Aid Commission on Tuesday will publish a list of colleges where students are ineligible for Cal Grants at www.csac.ca.gov. There are 154 colleges on the list for 2012-13, up from 67 for the 2011-12 year.

The number has grown because the most recent state budget has made it harder for schools with high student-loan default rates and low graduation rates to qualify.

About 6,700 students who will be starting their second, third or fourth year at any of the 154 schools will still be able to get Cal Grants but will get 20 percent less than they originally had been awarded.

Of the 154 ineligible colleges, 137 are private for-profit schools and the rest are private, not-for-profit schools. Among those joining the list are University of Phoenix and DeVry University.

APLE program suspended: The budget ax is forcing the commission to suspend another program it runs: the Assumption Program of Loans for Education. Better known as APLE, this program paid off certain college loans for teachers who taught in high-need schools or subject areas.

Teachers who were enrolled in the program and have already completed at least one year of qualified teaching will remain eligible for loan repayment, but no new participants will be enrolled.

The program started in the early 1980s to lure teachers into "critical shortage" areas in California.

It enrolls aspiring teachers when they are in college or teacher-credential programs and assumes responsibility for their federal student loans if they fulfill certain requirements. It also enrolls a limited number of people who are already working as credentialed teachers or district interns.

To qualify for loan assumption, teachers must teach full time in a designated subject (math, science, business, foreign language, agriculture or special education) or in certain schools with low test scores or a high percentage of students from low-income families.

Teachers can get up to $2,000 of loans assumed after their first year of qualifying service and up to $3,000 in each of the next three years for a total of $11,000 over four years.

Teachers who teach math, science or special ed in a designated low-performing school can get a bonus that brings their total loan assumption to $19,000. State law allows the commission to enroll 7,200 people per year, but in recent years it has had trouble meeting that goal. In 2011-12 only 4,000 were enrolled.

"We have had difficulty finding teachers who know about the program and are willing to take a job" in the designated areas, says Diana Fuentes-Michel, the commission's executive director.

She notes enrollment in California teacher-credentialing programs fell 40 percent between the 2005-06 school year and 2009-10.

Teaching candidates who enrolled in the program but have not completed a year of qualified teaching will not be eligible for loan repayment, Fuentes-Michel says.

Kimberly Claytor, president of the Newport Mesa Federation of Teachers and a former teacher, says she was dismayed to learn that the program is being suspended. When she started teaching high school science in the late 1990s, she had three job offers but chose to teach at a high-needs school in Costa Mesa (Orange County) because it qualified for the loan-assumption program.

"It was definitely one of the factors that helped me choose which job to take," says Claytor, who had $17,000 in loans assumed by the program.

"I know students coming out of school now are really in debt," she says. This program "was an incentive to go into teaching. There are a lot of disincentives out there."

Angie Sagastume, a human resources executive with the San Francisco Unified School District, says, "As people continue to shy away from becoming teachers due to the uncertainty of layoffs and dwindling of programs, the (discontinuation of) this financial incentive to become a teacher in hard-to-staff schools and subjects will very likely shrink our pool of future educators we recruit from."

The commission is also suspending enrollment in two similar but much smaller loan-assumption programs it offered for nurses. One was for nurses working in state facilities facing nursing shortages; the other for those who taught in nursing-education programs. The two programs, nicknamed SNAPLE, enrolled a total of 200 nurses per year.


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