California State Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside) introduced Senate Bill (SB) 461 to the California Legislature on February 21. If passed, the bill will extend Cal Grant to cover summer classes.
The bill is sponsored by the Coalition for a Better UC (CBUC) in partnership with the UC Student Association (UCSA) and the UC Office of the President (UCOP). It also has the support of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC) and Cal State Students Association (CSSA).
This is CBUC’s second attempt at extending the distribution of Cal Grant to summer session. Last year, the organization introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 3153, but it ultimately died in committee. CBUC Chair Kuvimbanashe Edwin Chikukwa told The Triton that UCSA is in the process of creating a budget funding request of approximately $110 million to fund the Cal Grant extension.
“We must have mechanisms in place to assure [sic] our college students are successful. Students will enroll in summer session courses if there is sufficient aid to allow them to afford the higher tuition and fees,” Roth said in a press release. “If we don’t listen to what our students are telling us they need, we not only continue to fail them, but we fail as a state.”
According to data from the UC Information Center, over 75,000 students in the UC system received a Cal Grant award in the 2017–18 school year—around 8,600 of which were for UCSD students.
“Although the federal government expanded the Pell Grant to summer based on this research, students are still reluctantly avoiding summer courses because[of] insufficient aid, which makes summer courses unaffordable,” said a UC Student Association press release. “SB 461 will help remedy this problem by allowing low income students…to take the summer courses they need to pursue a degree in a timely manner.”
SB 461 would allow students to receive aid for up to two summer terms, each up to nine units. It would not increase the maximum amount of aid a student can receive in four years. For transfer students, the bill allows funding for one summer term of up to nine units.
Overall, Chikukwa says the bill has a greater chance of passing the legislature this year than the bill that failed last year.
“This year we have the support of SSCCC, CSSA, UCSA, and a couple higher education interest groups,” Chikukwa said. “Not only that, but the California Student Aid Commission [a nonpartisan organization that administers financial aid] supports it as a way towards reform. There is definitely a stronger coalition this year.”
Ethan Edward Coston is an Assistant News Editor for The Triton. You can follow him @Ethan4Books.