Grant and Fee

Cal Poly Opportunity Grant

Cal Poly seeks to increase the percentage of low-income California students at the university. To accomplish this goal, Cal Poly is creating the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant. If fully implemented, the grant will provide full financial aid to cover campus fees for undergraduate students who are California residents with an Expected Family Contribution of up to $12,000 a year. This will require approximately $27.7 million per year on a recurring basis.

Initially, the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant will be extended to all California-resident students with an Expected Family Contribution of less than $4,000 in high-impact majors such as engineering and related STEM fields. Cal Poly’s ultimate goal is to phase in the grant to cover all majors. Students receiving the grant will live on campus for two years, participate in proactive advising and receive bookstore credit for a technology package.

Based on the university’s experience with the Cal Poly Scholars program, the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant will enhance the diversity of our student body and aid in increasing graduation rates and eliminating the achievement gap experienced by low-income, first-generation and diverse students by 2025. Racial and ethnic minorities and first-generation students are over-represented among lower-income households. By making Cal Poly affordable to students from lower-income families, the university will increase the diversity of the student population, improving the educational environment for all Cal Poly students.

Cal Poly Opportunity Fee

Cal Poly proposes the implementation of a new, campus-specific fee: the Cal Poly Opportunity Fee. The proposed fee would be assessed on out-of-state residents who are newly enrolling at Cal Poly.

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 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 an out-of-state 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

If approved, the Cal Poly Opportunity Fee would be used to fund the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant.

The university has determined that it will not implement this specific fee for the incoming 2018 class throughout their tenure at Cal Poly. The university is still evaluating the increased fee for out-of-state students to be assessed with the incoming 2019 class. 

As initially proposed, incoming out-of-state students in fall 2018 would pay an additional $2,010 a year and continue to pay the same annual fee during their undergraduate tenure at Cal Poly. Each subsequent incoming class of out-of-state students would pay a higher fee until the 2021 class (when the fee is fully phased in), as follows:

  • Fall 2018: $2,010
  • Fall 2019: $4,020
  • Fall 2020: $6,030
  • Fall 2021: $8,040

The proposal includes a provision allowing for the yearly increase to be adjusted by up to $2,700 per year, if needed, to fund the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant.

The combination of total tuition and the Cal Poly Opportunity Fee for out-of-state students would never exceed 90 percent of the comparable tuition and fees at a UC. In addition, the percentage of out-of-state students will continue to be capped at its current level of 15 percent.

Use of the Proposed Fee

Gross revenue derived from the fee will be distributed as follows:

  • The uniqueness of Cal Poly’s market value provides this campus the opportunity to implement a proposed fee increase. Fifteen percent of gross revenue will be returned to the CSU Chancellor's Office to seed additional programs similar to the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant at scale across the system.
  • The remaining revenue would be distributed as follows:
    • 50 percent would be designated for the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant.
    • 25 percent would be used for support services for the students receiving the grant.
    • 25 percent would be set aside to provide additional support, pending budget conditions, to the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant, with an emphasis on enhancing the grant and support 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.
  • The use of fees designated for student support would be reviewed by an advisory committee composed of a majority of students, as well as faculty and staff.

The Grant: An Opportunity

Through the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant, the university has an opportunity to serve a broader cross-section of California residents, and to support them in a variety of ways. Grant recipients would:

  • Receive financial support.
  • Participate in proactive advising.
  • Receive a technology package.
  • Live on campus during their first two years at Cal Poly, in a living-learning community that is focused on their success and progress.
  • Become part of a supportive network in which they will learn through a variety of curricular and co-curricular activities.

Cal Poly is modeling the new grant initiative based on the university’s successful Cal Poly Scholars program. Created in 2012, that program provides students from California partner high schools with scholarships for up to five years, a technology package, proactive advising and other support.

Cal Poly Scholars has improved retention rates among first-generation and low-income students as compared to their first-generation and low-income peers who did not participate in the program. With the Cal Poly Opportunity Grant, Cal Poly aims to dramatically scale up efforts to serve more students with financial need.

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