Leyva Introduces Legislation to Help Community College Students Pay for School Costs

SB 15 Would Increase Maximum Cal Grant C Awards for Access Costs from $547 to $3,000

Monday, December 5, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Earlier today, as the California State Senate reconvened, Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) introduced a vital bill to help community college students in California pay for their education and related access costs.

SB 15 will increase the maximum Cal Grant C amount that students at California Community Colleges (CCC) can use towards covering access costs—such as housing, transportation, and food—from $547 to $3,000.  By helping to cover a larger amount of access costs, this important bill will make it easier for students to pursue career technical education (CTE) training and give students a better opportunity to secure good paying jobs.

“SB 15 will help students at our California community colleges to better afford the many related costs associated with their education,” Senator Leyva said.  “By significantly increasing the Cal Grant C amount that students can receive to pay for their education access costs, we will be setting them on an improved path to success that will ensure stronger career options, higher pay and a better quality of life for themselves and their families.  Right now, the low award amount likely contributes to a large number of students either not seeking a Cal Grant C award or not accepting it once they have qualified.  This is money that the state has already budgeted to help students attend college and pursue their career goals, which is simply going unused.”

The Cal Grant program helps thousands of California students across the state to attend school by covering part of a student’s tuition or access costs. The Cal Grant program is split into several different awards, including Cal Grant A, Cal Grant B, and Cal Grant C awards.  Competitive Cal Grant C awards provide financial aid to students pursuing a career technical education (CTE) program or certificate.  These awards can be used at community colleges in California, private colleges, or career technical schools.  Presently, a total of 7,761 new Cal Grant C awards can be given out each year. Students attending a CCC can also qualify for the Board of Governors fee waiver to cover costs associated with class fees.

While most students who receive Cal Grant C awards attend a CCC, many of these students also receive the fee waiver and thus only qualify to receive a $547 Cal Grant C award instead of the full $2,462 award that students at a private college or career technical school would receive.  Despite low tuition or fee costs at community colleges, attending one of these schools could actually be more expensive than going to a school in the California State University or University of California systems because of the lack of financial aid for access costs.

Workers with “some college” education earn between 20 and 30 percent more than workers with only a high school diploma. Jobs in high growth sectors, such as health care practitioners and technicians, earn on average $27 more per hour than they could earn with only a high school diploma. CTE is a key component for students to obtain these types of jobs and an important opportunity for them to improve their lives.

SB 15 will be eligible to be considered in Senate policy committee(s) early next year.