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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

CA Community Colleges Awash in Aid

In California’s speed to ensure low-income students could afford at least a year of higher education, some community colleges have ended up with surplus assistance funds.

A new state measure just signed into law this month provides funding for students’ first year of studies at California community colleges. The bill was passed in response to former President Barack Obama’s call for community colleges to offer two free years of education under a proposed “America College Promise” program.

However, according to a report in the San Diego Union Tribune, a number of community colleges started their own Promise programs before the state did. As a result, some have more money to support first-year students than they need.

The San Diego Community College District, for example, launched a pilot program in 2016 and raised $300,000 to pay for more than 200 area students to attend at no cost. The district had planned to raise another $700,000 for the program this year. Palomar College secured $1.5 million in donations for its Promise program. Other colleges have similar amounts to set aside to aid students and are now trying to figure out how the money should be used in view of the new law, especially since approximately 60% of California’s community-college students already qualify for tuition-fee waives due to their low income.

Some schools are considering using their Promise funds to help students with textbooks or other costs. Because the new state law is aimed at helping first-year students only, some colleges said they may earmark their Promise money to assist second-year students or dropouts who want to return.

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