Free community college and a boost for Cal Grants: What Newsom wants to do for higher ed

Thursday, January 10, 2019

By Andrew Sheeler - Sacramento Bee

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s newly unveiled 2019-20 budget includes funding for two years of free community college and a significant increase in the amount of money students can receive from Cal Grants.

The California Community Colleges System fared well under Newsom’s proposed budget, with $402 million going toward cost-of-living allowances, enrollment growth, legal services for undocumented students and their families and providing a second year of free tuition.

It has long been a priority of community college advocates to add another year to the state’s existing California College Promise program, which offers a year of tuition free community college to all first-time students enrolled in at least 12 credits, regardless of income level.

Newsom’s budget is one way that a second year could be added; a bill from Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, is another.

Newsom’s budget also includes $121.6 million to increase the Cal Grant access awards for student parents.

Students with dependent children could receive up to $6,000 (up from a previous maximum of $5,742) from Cal Grant A, which covers tuition and fees at four-year colleges; up to $6,000 (up from $1,672) for Cal Grant B, which covers tuition and assistance after the first year at two- and four-year colleges; and up to $4,000 (up from $1,094) for Cal Grant C, which covers the costs associated with career or technical schools.

“I’m really excited about this. It’s significant cost, but I think it’s the right thing to do,” Newsom said at a press conference on Thursday.