Capitol Alert

Free community college and a boost for Cal Grants: What Newsom wants to do for higher ed

Hear governor Gavin Newsom’s 2019 state budget proposal

Gavin Newsom revealed his $209 billion California state budget proposal on Jan. 10, 2019.
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Gavin Newsom revealed his $209 billion California state budget proposal on Jan. 10, 2019.

A previous version of this story misstated the residency requirement for the California College Promise.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s newly unveiled 2019-20 budget includes funding for two years of free community college and a significant increase in the amount of money students can receive from Cal Grants.

The California Community Colleges System fared well under Newsom’s proposed budget, with $402 million going toward cost-of-living allowances, enrollment growth, legal services for undocumented students and their families and providing a second year of free tuition.

It has long been a priority of community college advocates to add another year to the state’s existing California College Promise program, which offers a year of tuition free community college to all first-time students enrolled in at least 12 credits, regardless of income level.

Newsom’s budget is one way that a second year could be added; a bill from Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, is another.

Newsom’s budget also includes $121.6 million to increase the Cal Grant access awards for student parents.

Students with dependent children could receive up to $6,000 (up from a previous maximum of $5,742) from Cal Grant A, which covers tuition and fees at four-year colleges; up to $6,000 (up from $1,672) for Cal Grant B, which covers tuition and assistance after the first year at two- and four-year colleges; and up to $4,000 (up from $1,094) for Cal Grant C, which covers the costs associated with career or technical schools.

“I’m really excited about this. It’s significant cost, but I think it’s the right thing to do,” Newsom said at a press conference on Thursday.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.