California governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation Tuesday implementing a series of measures to make college more accessible as a part of the state’s COVID-19 recovery efforts.
“With massive increases in funding for our world-class colleges and universities, expanded college savings accounts, increased student financial aid and opportunities to gain work experience while learning, we are helping students reach their full potential and driving upward mobility across California,” Newsom said in a press release.
Among other measures, the bill expands the Cal Grant program, a financial aid program for low- and middle-income students in the state, by removing eligibility requirements based on age and time out of high school. It ensures these grants continue to apply after students transfer from a California community college to an institution within the Cal State or University of California systems. The bill also allocates $115 million to zero-textbook-cost degree grant programs and open educational resources at California community colleges.
The legislation changes the Middle Class Scholarship program to offer scholarships that cover the difference between a student’s total cost of college and other sources of financial assistance, such as student and family contributions, starting in 2022-23, based on available resources each year.
The bill additionally creates a new dual-admissions program, which will allow students to complete an associate degree for transfer at a California community college with guaranteed admission to a UC or CSU campus of their choice. It also establishes the Golden State Education and Training Grant program to fund education and training opportunities for workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic and a Learning-Aligned Employment program across California public higher education systems to help underrepresented and low-income students gain work experience.