By: Gabriela Gutierrez
A set of new bills signed by Governor Gavin Newsom aim to make college more affordable and accessible.
Newsom signed the bills last week at California State University of Northridge. The bills are part of Newsom’s California Comeback Plan, SB 129, which details where the funds will be used. The higher education package of the California Comeback Plan is worth $47.1 billion.
Each bill in the plan targets a different part of the post-secondary school system in California. The bill specifically targets the disparities within the school system and the effects that the pandemic has had on students. The goal of bills AB 928 and AB 1111, written by Assembly member Marc Berman, are to make the transfer process easier.
AB 928 would help reduce the amount of excess units students can accumulate before transferring to a four-year college. The bill also calls for a mandatory pathway for students who plan to transfer. The bill said that “Many students attend community college with the hope of transferring to complete a bachelor’s degree. However, the master plan did not say how transfer would work in practice for students.”
AB 928 acknowledges the difficult process of transferring from a community college to a four- year university. The bill said that a report released by the Public Policy Institute of California revealed significant disparities for Black, Latino and first-generation students who wish to transfer, further acknowledging the need to close said equity gaps.
Many of the bills consider the difficulties caused by the pandemic. “There is a clear need to further streamline and make the transfer process easier for students to navigate, especially during these challenging and unprecedented times,” AB 928 said.
Bill AB 1113, by Assembly member Jose Medina, targets COVID-19 victims more explicitly, prohibiting mandatory tuition fees to be collected from any qualifying surviving spouse or surviving child of someone who died due to COVD-19. AB 1111 would require California community colleges to match their course numbers across all their course catalogs to make the courses easier to find and to match with their respective majors when transferring.
The bill places a deadline for California community colleges to make these changes on or before July 1, 2024. Newsom also signed bill AB 417, by Assembly member Kevin McCarty, which would establish the Rising Scholars Network to help -involved students.
A justice-involved student is “a person who is currently or formerly incarcerated in a California correctional facility, or currently or formerly detained in a juvenile facility.” Bill 417 would allow up to 50 community colleges who wish to participate in the Rising Scholars Program to apply to the board of governors for funding.
The board of governors in turn would provide reports every two years on the progress of the program and whether the program can be expanded to eventually be accessible to all community colleges. The ELAC Campus has a Rising Scholars system that is currently operating online, but still available to provide students with resources.
To schedule an appointment via video chat or telephone students can visit: https://elac.craniumcafe.com/elizandroumana. Full-text of the bills can be found on leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.