Lawmakers and Students Announce Emergency Financial Aid Bill and Urge

Friday, February 22, 2019

New legislation will provide emergency grants for students with unforeseen financial hardships

San Francisco, CA--State and local lawmakers joined students today to announce new legislation by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) that would provide community college students with emergency financial aid.  Assembly Bill 943 will allow community colleges to administer emergency grants to help stabilize students in financial crisis in order to continue their education.

“With the cost of education as high as it is, many students are just one financial crisis away from having to drop out of school,” said Assemblymember Chiu.  “We want to give students who experience an emergency a bit of stability so they can continue their studies.”  

As a college education becomes more expensive, students are finding it increasingly difficult to afford basic needs like housing, food, and transportation.  Studies have shown that experiencing just one financial emergency can force a student to drop out of school and derail their entire college career.

AB 943 seeks to provide a small safety net for a student experiencing an unforeseen financial emergency like an eviction, sudden illness, or the death of a family member.  Allowing community colleges to offer small grants throughout the semester will improve student success, retention, and completion rates. 

City College of San Francisco Faculty Union, AFT 2121, and Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, AFT 2279, are sponsoring AB 943.

"Housing insecurity in particular is a huge obstacle to our students' success,” said Jenny Worley, President of AFT 2121. “This bill will allow City College to provide students with the emergency support they need to stay in school when a crisis threatens to interrupt their studies."

“People don’t realize the crisis situation of housing and food insecurity that so many of our students face in California’s Community Colleges,” said Dean Murakami, President of AFT 2279.  “These are critical barriers to student success.  We thank Assemblymember Chiu’s AB 943 that helps to address the critical needs of our students.”

Students and advocates also voiced support for two other major legislative proposals geared at making community college more affordable and providing expanded financial aid opportunities.  Assembly Bill 2 by Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco) would waive a second year of tuition for all first-time, full-time community college students.  Senate Bill 291 by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) would expand the pool of students eligible for financial aid and take costs outside of tuition--like housing, food, and transportation--into account when determining the amount of financial aid available to students.

“A sustainable future for our state of California depends on millions more students, especially students of color, to earn their college degrees,” said Dr. Mark Rocha, Chancellor of City College of San Francisco.  “At City College we are working to close the graduation and achievement gap. The legislation proposed by Assemblyman David Chiu will enable our students to obtain the financial support necessary to graduate, to get a college degree and to get a good job.”

“The skyrocketing cost of higher education and unprecedented levels of student loan debt is becoming a financial crisis for our students and families, so increasing all types of financial aid is critical for us to close the achievement gap of our most vulnerable students,” said Alex Randolph, President of the Board of Trustees at City College of San Francisco.  “This additional support and financial aid from the state will further increase access to affordable higher education for San Francisco residents, who already benefit from Free City.”

AB 943, AB 2, and SB 291 are expected to be heard in legislative policy committees in March and April.

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