PCC Trustees Approve Resolution Backing Community College Waiver Expansion

Published : Friday, July 19, 2019 | 4:42 AM

The Pasadena City College Board of Trustees voted July 17 to pass a resolution supporting AB 2, which would help offset some of the cost associated with expanding its PCC Promise Program to second-year students.

The resolution passed 8-0 without discussion.

The state legislature has already approved Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) request to expand the California College Promise to second-year students. This bill makes the technical changes needed so that the $42.5 million appropriation to fund the expansion can be spent as intended.

To date, the California College Promise provides a waiver from fees to eligible, first-time community college students. AB 2 would expand it to a second academic year along with some other “technical” fixes such as clarifying the ineligibility of those who have earned a degree at a post-secondary institution.

PCC had already expanded its waiver program to second-year students with funds from local sources. Were AB 2 to pass, it would make state funding available to the ongoing effort.

AB 2 is authored by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago. It passed the Assembly on May 29. On July 10, it cleared the Senate Education Committee by a 7-0 vote. It is now before the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

According to a Senate Education Committee analysis, Santiago was the author of AB. 19, which passed the legislature and was signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in 2017.

Unit fee waivers — basically tuition waivers — had always been a part of California Community College system’s way of doing business with students demonstrating financial need, but Santiago’s bill went further. It created the California College Promise program, which authorized the waiver without a financial needs-based test.

The Budget Act of 2019, allocates $42.5 million to support the first academic year, and the aforementioned $42.5 million to bolster the new second-year, waiver provision.

The state’s nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Analyst actually recommended the legislature reject Newsome’s request to expand the program to a second year, saying there is not enough information from the new program to evaluate its impact on overall enrollment.

Secondly, the Legislative Analyst noted, as the program primarily benefits students not considered financially needy, “the legislature might have higher priorities for use of the funds.”

The Senate analysis noted that 85 of 105 colleges receiving College Promise funds are using most of it to pay for students without a financial need. The other colleges are using the money for book stipends or additional staff positions.

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