Loyola Marymount University sophomore Art Flores, junior Miguel Alex Centeno and two staff members traveled to Sacramento on March 2 for Cal Grant Day. The annual daylong event is an opportunity for representatives of California universities and colleges to lobby state legislators for the continued support of Cal Grants.
“Cal Grant Day is a great opportunity to make a positive change,” Flores said. “As a student representative, I felt like it was my responsibility to do the best job I could. It’s important to me, and to every recipient, that the Cal Grants are renewed.”
Flores was passionate about his concern for the future of Cal Grant funding: It was this grant that afforded him the opportunity to attend LMU.
“The Cal Grant was a make or break deal for me, especially coming from a single-parent home and being the first in my family to go to college,” Flores said. “LMU offered me an outstanding financial aid package, but without the Cal Grant I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to attend my dream school.”
LMU representatives met with the staff of district legislators including Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) and Assemblyman Steve Bradford (D-Gardena). Flores found the conversations challenging yet encouraging. “It was tough because some offices were not as responsive as I thought they would be. But, I felt like they saw the faces behind the Cal Grant and that we ultimately made an impact on them.”
Flores said that he was encouraged by a speech given by Sen. Lou Correa (D-CA), who told the students he was a recipient of the Cal Grant.
“Assemblyman Correa is who he is today because of the help he received from the grant. There were a lot of people on our side, many of whom were past recipients, who served as great examples for us to follow,” Flores said.
Cal Grants are state-funded monetary awards given to students to help pay college expenses, and do not have to be paid back. More than 800 LMU students depend on Cal Grants to finance their education. The maximum grant is $9,700.
“It’s important to remind representatives that the Cal Grant program needs to stay intact,” said Francis Villalpando, assistant director of state and federal relations at LMU. “It may seem hard to do, especially given the current budget crisis, but investing in students is actually an investment in the future of the state.”