Federal and California government offer relief to students

President Biden released a $1.8 trillion spending proposal, called the “American Families planto spend more on higher education.

The proposal includes $109 billion for a free community college, according to the plan. This would ensure that students can enroll in a community college to earn a degree or credential for free, without incurring student loan debt. A free community college under Biden’s proposal would be available for DREAMers.

An expansion of Pell grants, financial aid grants for low-income students who do not have to repay, will be extended. The current maximum Pell Grant award is $6,495; President Biden’s plan would increase the maximum award amount by $1,400. The biggest prize would be available for DREAMers.

A new $39 billion program will also be provided. It provides two years of subsidized tuition to students from families earning less than $125,000 enrolled in historically black four-year colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and minority-serving institutions.

One of his first actions in office, President Biden extended the freeze on federal student loan payments with 0% interest until September 30. Although it temporarily froze monthly interest payments, students who get jobs can save money and pay off federal student loans without worrying about being in debt.

Under Governor Gavin Newsom Proposed budget 2021-22, public colleges and universities in California would receive additional investments. It includes $30 million for emergency financial aid grants for low-income full-time students and other students who worked full-time before the pandemic.

Governor Newsom’s state budget plan would also provide schools and community colleges with $93.7 billion in public funding over the next few years to create college savings accounts for low-income children. Under the plan, each low-income public school child would receive a $500 deposit, and foster youth and homeless students would receive an additional $500 deposit.

Low-income families can already set up a college savings account through ScholarShare 529. The plan currently provides a matching contribution of $200, dollar for dollar, with an additional $25 for setting up an automatic contribution plan. Newsom’s administration expects these savings accounts to provide financial incentives to go to college for marginalized students who are often excluded from such opportunities.

Two California assemblymen – Jose Medina of Riverside County and Kevin McCarty of Sacramento – have proposed changes to simplify the Cal Grant program. Doing so would make high school students eligible for these financial aid grants for low-income high school students that do not have to be repaid.

The bill also guarantees tuition and scholarships for students who qualify for the Federal Pell Grant and attend a public four-year college. The Cal grant would require a GPA of 2.0 or higher, and the award is also available to older students who have more than one year of high school.

Currently, it is proposed and will need to be approved by the state legislature and signed by Governor Newsom before any of the proposed changes are implemented.

Bernard P. Love