CSU making grad students sweat

Graduate students at SF State were surprised this week that State University Grants were not included in their student aid awards for next semester.

This critical financial assistance for graduate students — providing direct assistance for state tuition fees — was put on hold by CSU Chancellor Charles Reed late last week. The fate of these grants and many student bank accounts will be decided upon in a closed meeting with Reid and campus presidents in Long Beach next week.

The hold affect approximately 16,000 graduate students. About $90 million was to be distributed prior to the hold. If CSU decides to yank aid for graduate students, thousands could be left without a way to pay for school next semester.

The decision for the hold was sudden, which is why students did not receive prior notice, according to SF State spokeswoman Ellen Griffin.

Of 4,057 graduate students at SF State in the 2011-2012 academic year, 1,375 received these grants.

That’s one-third for those who aren’t fond of math.

In a cruel double-whammy, State University Grants for undergrads — who are also eligible for Pell Grants and Cal Grants, unlike grad students — will not be affected.

CSU spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp told the Golden Gate Xpress the hold is not indicative of a complete cut of the grants.

“We are reviewing the policy for SUGs for graduate students. This is a wide-ranging conversation.”

The difference between these grants and others such as Pell Grants is that State University Grants come from student fees, while others are federally funded.

Diana Fuentes-Michel, executive director of the California Student Aid Commission, which distributes Cal Grants and other aid, said the Chancellor should keep the meeting open:

“There needs to be an explanation. If they are resetting priorities, if undergraduates are going to be their focus, then they need to say so.”