Governor Newsom’s January budget proposal includes $1 billion in new funding for higher education. Much has been made of his plan to cover two years of tuition for first-time, full-time community college students. But that is just one aspect of an overall approach that provides extensive support to a wide variety of students.
Newsom’s proposal increases by nearly 15% the number of “competitive” Cal Grants—a distinct type of support available to students who do not qualify for entitlement grants. Recipients of competitive Cal Grants are often older, non-traditional students. Further, all Cal Grant recipients who have dependent children would receive an additional $6,000 to help with non-tuition related costs. In addition, Newsom’s budget allocates nearly $50 million to programs that address housing and student hunger—and those that provide legal services for undocumented students, staff, and faculty.
The governor’s focus on affordability aligns with Californians’ concerns regarding higher education. According to the latest PPIC survey on Californians and higher education, 58% of all adults noted that affordability was a big problem for California’s public higher education systems; just 14% said that it was not much of a problem. Most Californians also said that higher education should be a high priority for the new governor. This budget proposal suggests that Governor Newsom is listening.