Cal Grants are the most critical state financial aid investments to promote college access and affordability for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and students from low-income backgrounds throughout California. The Cal Grant program provides students, including those with the fewest resources, with financial aid to pursue higher education. As a commitment to further strengthen the Cal Grant program and better serve more low-income Californians, California state lawmakers and the governor enacted the Cal Grant Reform Act in the 2022 Budget Act, which is to be implemented in 2024 contingent upon the state fully funding the reform. But underserved Californians cannot wait; they need support now to accomplish their higher education goals. California policymakers have a critical opportunity this year to reinforce the state’s commitment to achieving educational equity for BIPOC students and students with the greatest need by investing in Cal Grant Reform starting in the 2023-24 state budget.

This equity alert, from The Education Trust–West and The Institute for College Success & Access (TICAS), provides an overview of why Cal Grant Reform is needed; describes the limitations of the Middle Class Scholarship program in serving low-income, Black, Latinx, and Native American students and community college students in California; and provides recommendations that state policymakers can act on this year to advance equity-centered financial aid reforms.