President Jeffrey Armstrong proposed the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant and Fee in February 2018. Matt Lalanne | Mustang News

Cal Poly administration has proposed an increase in incoming out-of-state students’ fees to fund a grant to help incoming low-income California students.

The Cal Poly Opportunity Grant (CPOG) will help pay Cal Poly fees for incoming California-resident students who meet specific low-income qualifications.

To accumulate the money needed to sustain this grant, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong proposed the Cal Poly Opportunity Fee (CPOF) to be applied to incoming out-of-state students.

The fee would begin as $2,010 per year for out-of-state students, either starting their freshman year or transferring to Cal Poly in Fall 2018. The fee would then increase by that amount for each new year. Freshmen starting in Fall 2019 would pay $4,020 per year and freshmen starting in 2020 would pay $6,030 per year. Students starting in 2021 and beyond would pay $8,040 per year.

In its first year in effect, the grant will only apply to low-income students in the College of Engineering. Armstrong said he hopes all majors will be included in the grant by 2023, depending on the amount of money the university obtains for the grant.

The grant will be available to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, but will not be open to low-income out-of-state students.

The grant and fee have not been formally approved yet. Beginning this month, the proposition will be scrutinized by the Campus Fee Advisory Committee and will be presented to Associated Students, Inc. prior to a final decision, estimated to be made by mid-March.

Prior to the decision, the grant and the fee will undergo levels of examination and debate, just as the health fee did Fall 2017. Students and community members are encouraged to speak up and attend open forums to discuss the proposition. Students will also be able to give feedback through their Cal Poly Portal.  

“Our students are amazing and you are [going to] look at this and tear it apart, but we are open to any idea,” Armstrong said.

In a press release, Armstrong said the grant will help the school “work towards its goal of increasing diversity on campus and enhancing the quality of education and career readiness for all Cal Poly students.”

The university is also planning to enroll a more diverse student body on campus by focusing on the demographics of California.

“Diversity, which [is] linked to low-income student participation at Cal Poly, is incredibly important for the future and our sustainability. We have looked at many, many different ways to do this; this is the best mechanism that our collected minds could produce at this point,” Armstrong said.

According to Armstrong, 50 percent of the money raised from the fee will fund the CPOG and 25 percent will fund support services for low-income first-generation students. The remaining 25 percent will go to Cal Poly for pending budget conditions, but over time may be used for additional CPOG or support services funds.

Students will be qualified for the grant based on their Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

EFC is a number based on a federal formula that calculates a family’s ability to assist a student’s education and how much financial aid the student will receive. The formula takes into account income, assets and benefits. 

CPOG, when first put into effect, will apply to students who fall under the lowest EFC intake. Depending on funds, Armstrong plans for the grant to apply to all California resident students with a $4,000 or less EFC as soon as possible.

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