FAQs

Cal Poly Opportunity Grant

How does a grant for low-income students benefit all students?

We hear increasingly from major employers and industry partners that Cal Poly simply must provide a more diverse educational environment for all students, in order to prepare them for success in today’s ever-diverse world. Academically qualified low-income California students will benefit directly from this grant, as it will provide the financial assistance necessary to attend Cal Poly.

The Cal Poly Opportunity Grant would increase the percentage of low-income students on campus. What percentage of currently enrolled students are low-income? 

At its outset, the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant would award grants to low-income students with an Expected Family Contribution of less than $4,000 a year. About 12.7 percent of the incoming students in fall 2017 have an EFC of less than $4,000 a year.  As the grant is implemented in phases, Cal Poly will be able to award grants to students in a broader range of lower income levels.

What is Expected Family Contribution or EFC? Who defines this?

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is based on a federal formula that uses a family’s income, assets and benefits to determine how much and what types of financial aid a student is eligible to receive.

Cal Poly Opportunity Grant recipients would live on campus for their first two years at Cal Poly. Will these students receive financial aid to live on campus?

Students may be able to qualify for financial aid to put toward their housing costs. Funds from the CPOG would cover university fees, not housing costs. This would, however, allow students to apply financial aid funds currently needed for fees to other expenses such as housing.

Why would this program benefit engineering and STEM majors first?

The Cal Poly Opportunity Grant will take approximately four years to be fully implemented, as each incoming class of non-resident students is assessed the fee. In the first years, the fee won't generate enough revenue to provide every low-income California student a Cal Poly Opportunity Grant. We targeted engineering and STEM majors because they have historically been the majors that provide the greatest upward mobility for low-income students.

Will the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant increase overall enrollment?​

No. The Cal Poly Opportunity Grant will increase the diversity of our student population, not the number of students admitted.

Will the effect of this program be to lower admission standards and undermine the value of the degree?​

No. Cal Poly’s rigorous academic requirements apply to all prospective students. The population this grant would assist are students who have been admitted based on the high standards applied to all of our applicants. Once a student is admitted, based on our criteria, he or she may become eligible for the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant.

No applicant would be favored or disadvantaged based on race or ethnicity, and no student would receive or be denied a Cal Poly Opportunity Grant due to those factors. The Cal Poly Opportunity Grant would make Cal Poly more affordable to all low-income California applicants, regardless of race or ethnicity.

In addition, increasing the diversity of our campus will enhance the quality of a Cal Poly education and further prepare our students to compete in an ever-diverse global workplace. 

Cal Poly Opportunity Fee

What is a category II fee? 

Category II fees are campus-based mandatory fees that are required for enrollment at the university. This includes campus academic fees; Student Success fees; Associated Students and University Union fees; fees for instructionally related activities, health services and health facilities; and various other miscellaneous mandatory fees.

Category II fees also must be authorized by the CSU chancellor.

Does the Cal Poly Opportunity Fee apply to out-of-state students who are currently enrolled?

No. All currently matriculated out-of-state students are exempt from the fee.  

For students assessed the Cal Poly Opportunity Fee, students will stay in their cohort (meaning they would pay the same fee each year) as long as they complete their degree within 150 percent of the stated length of the degree. This includes 4+1 programs and those who choose to continue to a master’s degree. If a non-resident student who is assessed the fee exceeds the 150 percent, but has extenuating circumstances, there will also be an opportunity for appeal. (Learn more about Cal Poly's academic standards at http://catalog.calpoly.edu/academicstandardsandpolicies/academicstandards/).

Why does the proposed fee apply only to out-of-state students?

Among the CSUs, Cal Poly is particularly attractive to out-of-state students, for affordability and more importantly, the Learn by Doing philosophy we bring to our education. When we compare our costs to out-of-state students, we find that Cal Poly is considerably under the out-of-state rate charged by comparable universities. For instance, the total 2017-18 price for an out-of-state student to attend Cal Poly is $39,105, compared to the UC total cost of $61,444. It is never Cal Poly's intent to charge out-of-state students that level of additional fees. However, given the disparity, it is appropriate to consider the proposed increase. Even with an eventual fee of $8,040, Cal Poly's cost to out-of-state students will remain significantly below those of most other public universities in the state and around the country.

In order to fulfill Cal Poly's mission to the residents of California and to continue to provide for our students — California and out-of-state students — with the best possible education, the university is proposing this annual cohort-based fee to out-of-state students, and to use the revenue from those fees in the most effective way to support and enhance our Learn by Doing education for all students.

Will this lead to an increase in the proportion of out-of-state students?  Will Cal Poly favor out-of-state students because they would bring in more money?

The university will not increase or favor out-of-state students. Cal Poly will continue to cap out-of-state students at 15 percent of total enrollment, which is the current level — the proposal would not change that policy.

Out-of-state students do not take spaces from qualified California residents, nor are admissions criteria different or lessened. The state budget limits how many qualified California students the university can enroll. That number is based on budget allocations from the California Legislature and the CSU Chancellor’s Office. Because out-of-state residents pay the full cost of their education and receive no support from California taxpayers, qualified candidates from out of state can be admitted above the state-funded enrollment levels. The additional funding provided by out-of-state students stays on campus and helps to subsidize the costs for faculty, staff and equipment not otherwise covered by the State of California.

What is the exact breakdown of the proposed Cal Poly Opportunity Fee? How will the funds be used to support students?

Fifteen percent of the Cal Poly Opportunity Fee will be returned to the CSU Chancellor's Office to seed additional programs similar to the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant across the system.

The remainder will be distributed as follows:  
— 50 percent to the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant to provide financial aid to low-income students for on-campus fees. 
— 25 percent for support services.
— 25 percent to be set aside to provide additional support, pending budget conditions, to the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant with an emphasis on enhancing it in the early years of the phase-in period. Any money that does not go to the grant would be used to support student success in critical areas such as instructional programs and providing numerous other facilities and services across campus.

An advisory committee, composed of students, faculty and staff (with students making up a majority of the committee), will review the use of fees designated for support services for students receiving the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant.  The funds to support students would go toward direct (for example, advisors) and indirect (for example, the Writing and Rhetoric Center) support services to ensure that students succeed.

Why wouldn't currently enrolled out-of-state students pay the new, proposed fee? Why is the fee proposed to be rolled out over four years?

Current students accepted admission to Cal Poly under the good faith that fees will stay relatively stable over their time at Cal Poly (CSU-wide fees or tuition are determined by the CSU Trustees and increases are not controlled by Cal Poly). For that same reason, the proposed fee is charged on a cohort basis and rolled out over four years. That way each incoming class knows the amount of the opportunity fee they would pay for the next four to five years while completing their degree at Cal Poly.

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