Prior to this budget California had offered one year of free community college tuition. The state will now offer two years of free community college tuition to first-time, full-time students. This will support approximately 33,000 students this upcoming fiscal year in attending any of the 115 community colleges in California.
Governor Gavin Newsom said of the new plan, “Higher education is not just CSU or UC. The first door of higher education is community college for millions of Californians and we’re proud to have a second year of community college free.”
Also included in the new budget for education is $41.8 million for Cal Grant Scholarships that will be used for costs at any California State University, University of California, community college, or trade school in the state. This influx in funding increases Cal Grants by 15,250 awards specifically for non-traditional, low and middle-income students. Additionally $96.7 million will go towards funding for non-tuition costs for students with dependent children. Fifty million is allocated for ScholarShare, a Child Savings Account program that supports guardians in maintaining savings accounts for their children’s higher education. An additional $10 million was granted to the University of California and California State Universities to waive costs for summer courses. Forty-five million of ongoing funding and a one time influx of $30 million is being invested in the Graduation Initiative 2025 to support students’ graduation on time. Currently only 20% of California State University students graduate within four years.
California’s new budget also expanded Medi-Cal to become the first state to offer health care to some undocumented immigrants.
How does the government investing in higher education affect the wellbeing of citizens as a whole? What impact could these new funds have on addressing broader inequalities in access to higher education?