Another day, another dollar for California higher education. California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law several bills that affect the state’s higher education system. But, none of the bills resolved the underlying problem of higher education: its growing expenses and high cost for students and their parents.
Newsom signed into law several bills, one of which was Assembly Bill 943. That specific bill, according to Inside Higher Ed, opened “up a large pot of state funds to be used for emergency student aid.” Now, community colleges can use funding from the state’s Community Colleges Student Equity and Achievement Program to fund emergency student financial assistance.
According to the bill, there is no cap on how much money each college could use for emergency funds, yet it requires colleges to outline so-called “student equity plans” to include plans for emergency funds.
A Democratic state legislator wrote the bill, which passed by a 40-0 vote in the state senate, and the bill was cosponsored by multiple higher education and teacher’s union interests, such as the California Federation of Teachers, Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, City College of San Francisco Faculty Union, Los Rios College Federation of Teachers and Scholarship America.
Admittedly, the fiscal impact is significant because the current equity and achievement program has $472 million in funding. It is supposed to be directed to tutoring and peer-mentoring programs. Now, the $472 million in funds can be used for students’ emergency assistance in housing, food assistance, textbook grants, and transportation assistance. These cases must be defined as unforeseen challenges that puts a student’s academic progress at risk.
Ironically, the sponsor of the bill, state assemblyman David Chiu, cited a report that low-income students in California could not afford college costs. Instead of attacking the problem directly, Chiu’s bill keeps the status quo in higher education intact, while offering some financial relief in case of emergencies.
If Chiu and the state of California were concerned about the rising cost of higher education, they would focus on the salaries of administrators and faculty members, or in other words, bureaucratic largesse, in addition to evaluating the viability and pragmatism of college courses and offerings, federal and state subsidies, and other culprits of rising tuition costs.