Expanding Access to Higher Education

As thousands of students settle in to college life, I marvel at how our recent state budget moves are paying off for California students at our public universities. More in-state students are attending because of funding increases to colleges, financial aid programs, and housing.

University of California (UC), for instance, recently reported it had offered a record number of admissions to first-year applicants who live in our state and that this year's entering class is the largest group of unrepresented freshmen. That's 88,285 Californians - a 68 percent freshmen admission rate. Helping with that in-state increase is our five-year plan (we are in the second year) that "buys out" spots normally given to out-of-state or international students, so that a total of 4,500 more California students can attend the high-demand Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego campuses.

For California State University (CSU) campuses, there are 4,000 new students within the system, plus they are lined up to grow another 10,000 next year. Community colleges will also benefit from our latest spending plan with a $678 million increase in funding, as a part of the state's 8.22 percent cost-of-living-adjustment.

To help more students pay for college, we boosted CalGrants and the Middle Class Scholarships, allocating $2.3 billion and $859 million in funding over two years, respectively. I'm especially thrilled about a new program that helps foster youth attend college debt-free.

Lastly, we address the lack of campus housing - one of the most pressing issues in higher education. California continues its march to expand housing for students, with a total of 6,500 beds being added in the next few years to UCs, CSUs, and community colleges, thanks to new state funding. These projects will also take the pressure off local housing markets, freeing up units for workers and families.

As Assembly Budget Chair, I'm proud of these investments because they enhance access to higher education, advance equity, and increase affordability.

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