Supported By Scholarship America, Bill to Provide Emergency Aid to California Community College Students Passes First Committee

Assemblymember David Chiu’s AB 2822 helps ensure community college students complete their course of study despite unexpected financial emergencies.

Sacramento, CA – The Assembly Higher Education Committee voted to pass Assemblymember David Chiu’s Assembly Bill 2822, which would help ensure that California community college students pursue their educational goals despite unforeseen financial emergencies by providing small emergency grants from the Student Success and Support Program (SSSP).

“AB 2822 will help relieve some of the stress students face in the midst of an unexpected financial emergency and keep them on the path to be successful,” said Assemblymember Chiu.

California sends more students to community colleges than any other state and compared to their counterparts at other public four year colleges, community college students are lower income and receive less financial aid. A Public Agenda report found that community college students stated that the number one reason they leave school is their need to work and attend school at the same time.

“Due to the bureaucratic constraints that our current financial aid system faces, it may not always tackle unexpected financial emergencies in a timely manner,” said Alex Galeana, Vice President of External Affairs of the bill’s sponsor, the Student Senate for California Community Colleges. “We believe that AB 2822 will efficiently tackle these time-sensitive emergencies, which will ensure that all of our students, regardless of socioeconomic status, can realize their educational endeavors.”

“Scholarship America believes students shouldn’t have to stop their education to deal with sudden financial challenges,” said Despina Costopoulos, Director of Community Engagement Partnerships. “Small-dollar emergency aid, at the right time, can keep students in class and on their course toward success.”

Emergency aid is emerging as an effective tool for colleges and universities to improve student retention and degree completion. This aid provides small grants to students immediately when they face an emergency financial situation, such as medical expenses, car repairs, or child care that would otherwise force them to drop out. We know that 65 percent of community college students who drop out and intend to re-reenroll, but only 38 percent actually return. A recent review of one emergency aid program concluded that 90 percent of students who receive emergency aid finished their term and 88 percent enrolled the next semester.

Currently, 31 percent of California community college students finish their coursework on time. The Seymour-Campbell Student Success Act (“the Act”) of 2012 created the SSSP to ensure that all students in community college complete their courses, continue to the next academic term, and achieve their educational objectives. AB 2822 provides community colleges with another tool to reach their mandate under the Act.

“Financial insecurity is a very real issue among California community college students,” said Gerson, a student at East Los Angeles College and supporter of AB 2822. “Since we never know what tomorrow may bring, having an emergency grant program, like the one that AB 2822 proposes, will give confidence to students to continue with their academic career. It definitely would have helped me.”

AB 2822 will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in May.

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About Assemblyman David Chiu
Assemblymember David Chiu (D – San Francisco) is the Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore of the California State Assembly and represents the 17th Assembly District, which encompasses eastern San Francisco and the historic LGBT neighborhoods in the City.

About Scholarship America
For nearly 60 years, Scholarship America has worked directly with students, parents, colleges, businesses and communities to empower people to fulfill their college dreams. As the nation’s largest provider of private scholarships, having distributed over $3.1 billion to more than 2 million students, Scholarship America is now working to further engage the private sector to support programs and policies that advance equity in postsecondary education and help students overcome barriers to access, persistence and attainment. More information is available at scholarshipamerica.org and by following@scholamerica.

Press Contact
Judson True
Office of Assemblymember David Chiu
judson.true@asm.ca.gov
(916) 319-2017

Posted in Policy, Scholarship America Media Releases, The Latest.