The California College Promise
A high school diploma is no longer a proxy for a job. Whether a four-year, two-year or vocational degree, some form of advanced education is increasingly required to access the jobs of today and tomorrow. Yet even as the need for education has grown, California has placed higher burdens on those who can least afford it -- students and working families -- and stymied their efforts to succeed. Many students leave college with debt levels that would finance a home mortgage. Many don't finish college at all because of the cost our education systems put in front of them.
Joining Long Beach City College President Eloy Ortiz Oakley in an op-ed, Lieutenant Governor Newsom called for the creation of the California Promise program. And he helped to secure $15 million for the California College Promise Innovation Awards in the 2016-17 state budget to spur the launch of Promise Programs across the state.
While each assumes a different form, these regional collaborations among school districts, institutions of higher education, government and the private sector help foster a college-going culture in our public schools, make college affordable and set students on dedicated pathways to quality jobs. Together, these partners unite communities around a common vision of closing the achievement gap and graduating more of our young people from college.
At the launch of the ambitious Oakland Promise, the Lieutenant Governor also voiced his support for the "California College Promise" legislative package, a collection of bills announced by Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside), Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, that provides funding to community colleges to establish regional Promise Programs, expands the Cal Grant financial aid program for community college students, and increases access to the Board of Governor's (BOG) Fee Waiver program.
California already has the most progressive "free community college tuition" plan in the nation; nearly 70% of full-time community college students do not pay tuition through the BOG Fee Waiver. Once the total cost of attendance and all available financial aid is taken into account however, it is more expensive for a financially needy student to attend a community college than a UC or CSU campus. Non-tuition expenses like books, transportation and housing can make up more than 90% of the total cost of attendance. The "California College Promise" legislative package will begin to address these pressing challenges.
In 2008, then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom launched the San Francisco Promise in partnership with San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). Since the program began, the number of freshmen enrolled at SF State from SFUSD high schools has grown by 52 percent. In October 2010, Mayor Newsom launched Kindergarten to College (K2C), the nation's first universal children's savings account program, designed to put all children on the path to college.