Impasse Impact

Delay in passing the state budget has substantial effects on community college students who depend on financial aid.

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You could have bet your bottom dollar that the California legislature would not pass the budget in time, but many community college students were betting on those dollars for an education this year. As lawmakers haggled over add-and-subtract maneuvers, the fate of students in need of financial aid unfairly suffered in their hands.

Indeed, it was announced on Sunday that a compromise had finally been reached, and it's likely that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will approve it. But this budget impasse-one of the longest ones in the state's recent history-was more than just an inconvenience in students' lives. Paying bills and buying groceries, affording textbooks, staying in school-all of these depend on a budget passing within a reasonable time.

While the state's budget hung in limbo, $280 million in Cal Grants could not be divvied up among the University of California, California State Universities and California Community Colleges. Though UC Berkeley and UC Merced, which usually starts before the budget is finalized, have the means to dip into other funds to front the money for financial aid recipients, community colleges do not have this luxury. Students should not have to face the possibility of dropping out regardless of how ineffective negotiations are in Sacramento.

On a brighter note for the UC system, a settlement on the budget will allow financial allocations to be discussed by the UC Regent Board of Regents during their meeting this week. While this occurs before other campuses begin the fall quarter, it's still cutting it quite close.

Although it's almost an annual tradition for the state budget to fail to pass by deadline, the extra delay this year should serve as a reminder of the real-life consequences that could stem from a practice that's disconcertingly considered the norm.

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