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The owner of a Sacramento vocational school that can no longer accept Cal Grant money because of cuts in the state budget says his company will find another way to provide the scholarships to needy students, using private instead of public funds.

"We're going to come up with something so that our students will know no difference," said John Zimmerman, president of MTI College, which will be eliminated from the state's Cal Grant program this year based on new performance standards established in the budget. "Instead of the check coming from the state of California, it's going to come from us," he said.

Zimmerman said he plans to move $1 million from his company's reserves to a scholarship fund that would support about 200 students who qualify for Cal Grants because of their low incomes.

MTI College is in the same situation as the vast majority of for-profit colleges in California, which do not meet new criteria the state is establishing for schools to receive Cal Grants in 2012-13. The state is allowing only those schools with graduation rates of at least 30 percent and loan default rates lower than 15.5 percent to participate in the Cal Grant program for the coming year, a move that will eliminate Cal Grants to some 11,000 students statewide.

Zimmerman said he expects his school will be eligible to accept Cal Grants next year because its loan default rate is improving.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 4:45 p.m. to clarify the state's performance standards.


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