CSUN students using financial aid to support their families

The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA conducted a conference call Tuesday morning to discuss their recently issued report that examines the impact that state budget cuts have had on our student body.

Patricia Gándara and Gary Orfield surveyed more than 2,000 students at CSUN in Fall 2010. They chose CSUN because it is one of the largest universities in the CSU system and it demographically mirrors the student body of the CSU system.

“Cal State Northridge has the highest percentage of underrepresented minorities in the entire state of California,” said Dr. Harry Hellenbrand, CSUN’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The report, “Squeezed from All Sides,” demonstrated the struggles CSUN students deal with, such as soaring tuition rates and shrinking classes. Combined with economic turmoil at home, students now face an increasing amount of stress.

“Clinic visits are up,” Hellenbrand said.

The report also states that roles have reversed for many California residents and their children. Parents are increasingly dependent on their children. Some students are using their financial aid to help support their household.

“Eighty percent of the students are saying that it is taking at least one year longer to complete their degree,” Gándara said.

Jose Juan Gomez, fifth year Chicano/Chicana studies student, said he has diverted about $800 from financial aid to support his family. His father has been unemployed for a year now and his mother is still unable to find a job.

“They have to pay for their house and take care of my little sisters, and that’s why I took an extra loan this year,” Gomez said.

Hellenbrand foresees problems for the state if trends continue the way they are.

“We are considerably aware that if we don’t successfully graduate students now, in 20 years those of us who are going to be looking for retirement funded by the next generation of workers, are going to be out on the streets pan-handling because they will not be out there completing their work that we need done,” Hellenbrand said.