US & World

Cal State presidents lobby for Pell Grants

California State University Chancellor Charles Reed.
California State University Chancellor Charles Reed.
Kitty Felde/KPCC

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The presidents of California State Universities are in Washington, DC this week. They want Congress to put back money cut from the Pell Grant program.

About a third of the 412,000 students in the Cal State system qualify for Pell Grants. They each get $5,050 to pay for tuition. The federal budget just passed by the House cuts each grant by $800.

Charles Reed is chancellor of the Cal State University system. He and more than 20 CSU presidents are lobbying Congress to restore the House cuts, as well as a summer Pell program that the White House cut.

"Our student profile," he says, "is one of having students go to school the year-round because many of our students work and so they are able to take one or two classes in the summer."

Chancellor Reed says about half of the CSU’s freshmen need remedial courses in math and English. He says the summer Pell Grants help pay for remedial classes so freshmen will be ready for college in the fall.

"That’s why the summer Pell was so important to us," he says. "So that by the time they start their freshman year, they’re up to speed and doing well. And all the research and the data says that if a student is prepared for college work, they’ll be successful when they start."

The 23-campus Cal State University system is the nation’s largest recipient of Pell Grants.