Proposed Bills, Plus SOS Fund Draw Attention to Affordability Issue


College is expensive. On top of tuition, there’s books, housing, and transportation—and you still have to eat. Luckily for college students in California, awareness of the fullness of the college affordability issue is spreading to the state legislature. There are two bills under consideration that would affect Mt. SAC’s students.

Recently-proposed state legislation would extend the College Promise Program from one year to two years, but critics say this isn’t enough. One such critic is Iiyshaa Youngblood, president of the student government of California Community Colleges. Youngblood points out that, among other things, the College Promise Program doesn’t include part-time students, who make up a significant portion of community college students. Of the students who would be eligible for this program, Mt. SAC president Bill Scroggins said, “The zip codes where they were from and the age group doesn’t match what our neediest students are.”

Sen. Leyva in 2015

Sen. Leyva in 2015

That’s why State Senator Connie Leyva is proposing legislation to expand the factors involved in awarding financial aid to community college students. Sen. Leyva, a Mt. SAC alumna, wants financial aid to be based on the “true cost” of attending college, not just tuition. And in order to expand what students are eligible, this financial aid would be applicable “whether a student is seeking a degree, certificate, or short-term career education program.”

According to Sen. Leyva’s press release, “California community colleges enroll about two-thirds of the state’s undergraduate students, yet they receive only seven percent of Cal Grant funds.”

Even though the tuition cost of community college is relatively low, around $46 per credit hour, the other costs associated with attending college are the same for community college students as for four-year university students. That means there is a funding gap that disproportionately affects community college students.

Food bank at Mt. SAC

Food bank at Mt. SAC

We’re optimistic that the challenges unique to community college students are the radar of the state legislature. In the meantime, the Mt. SAC Foundation knows that many of the College’s students are struggling financially right now, sometimes temporarily and sometimes in long term ways. Both affect students’ ability to succeed in the classroom and the Foundation does everything it can to help. Our Sustaining Our Students Fund is one of the ways we’re tackling this issue. SOS targets specifically the hunger aspect. As many as two-thirds of community college students in California cannot afford to eat on a regular basis.

Hunger should not be a barrier to success. The Foundation’s goal is to raise $100,000 for the SOS Fund so that we are able to provide food for students whenever they need it.

You can donate directly to this effort by selecting “Sustaining Our Students Fund” from the designation drop-down menu.

Katie Pruitt