EdTech April 17, 2024

Here’s How California Community Colleges Support Equitable Education

Writen by Editorial Team

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Here’s How California Community Colleges Support Equitable Education

Dr Seuss once said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Unfortunately, many educational institutions are struggling with creating operational  budgets that put students first. This is bad because it can perpetuate socioeconomic inequalities instead of dealing with them. But as Dr Seuss emphasizes the importance of education, we can all agree that education is a fundamental right – not a luxury.

Fortunately, the US Department of Labor is actively trying to combat socioeconomic disparities. It aims to ensure equitable access to education at community colleges by investing a whopping $65 million. However, the next step is to develop practical strategies to implement policies ensuring the transparent and lucrative allocation of these resources.

This blog emphasizes the importance of educational equity with examples from the California Community Colleges and how such initiatives genuinely make a difference for many students.

How California Community Colleges Support Equitable Access to Education

California Community Colleges offer various educational programs to intentionally accommodate lower to middle-income students. One example is the Peralta Group of Colleges, which includes the College of Alameda, Berkeley City College, Merritt College in Oakland, and Laney College. Peralta Colleges have gone out of their way to make yearly tuition affordable, making them one of the least costly academic institutions in the State of California.

California Community Colleges

Besides lower tuition, California Community Colleges are committed to equitable education solutions. They have different initiatives to help students (especially lower-income college students) graduate successfully and gain equitable access to education. These programs include:

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for California Students

The FAFSA is a federal financial aid program that covers grants, loans, work-study, and more to help you manage college or career school. Students who demonstrate a financial need can create an account at the FAFSA government portal and fill out the application form within the prescribed deadline to be eligible.

California Dream Act Application-Based Fee Waivers (CADAA)

The California Dream Act accommodates non-resident students to receive financial aid as private and state-funded scholarships, university grants, and community college fee waivers. Like FAFSA (for California residents), this Act also aims to facilitate equal access to education in the community. You can find out if you’re eligible for FAFSA or CADAA on the Immigrants Rising website.

Fall is Free Initiative

Fall is Free is a new initiative at all four Peralta College campuses to support students applying for FAFSA or CADAA. They even provide support and guidance to students for filling out the necessary forms to be considered. The Fall is Free initiative provides additional support like coverage of the entire semester tuition fee plus enrollment fee, student transportation, parking fees, campus use, student representation fee, and health. It also doesn’t require a minimum credit hour enrollment and is especially beneficial for first-generation college students. The program proves Peralta Group’s commitment to ensuring equitable education for all students. In fact, the program was so successful in 2023 that they introduced a “Spring is Free” initiative that followed a similar model and even saw an 11% increase in student applications!

Spring is Free Initiative

The Spring is Free Initiative at all Peralta Colleges is funded by the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), targeting California state resident students. Dr. Rudy Besikof, Laney College President, shared, “Our Fall efforts in this arena were a great success, as students, particularly those from historically underserved communities, need all the help we can give them while they get an education that will build their earning power and enrich their lives. I’m so glad our campus has come together with this important initiative. At Laney College this fall, we saw a 15% increase in students taking classes and a significant increase in financial aid awards thanks to nearly 20% more students completing the FAFSA.”

Besides the Spring is Free program waiver, each college also offers additional perks. Laney College provides lunches and food pantry items, technology like Chromebooks and WiFi hotspots, parking, and book grants. Students taking 6 or more units get help with student transportation. Berkeley City College students (if they enroll for 6 or more in-person units) get free parking, a $150 Clipper Card, and a Spring to Succes grant. Also, the College of Alameda is offering $500 to students taking at least 6 units, which they can use for books, supplies, or other school expenses. Dr. Diana Bajrami, Acting President of the College of Alameda, encourages students to make the most of these waivers, “This is an extraordinary opportunity for our students and their families to save significantly on the cost of their college education.”

The Peralta Community College District Interim Chancellor, Dr. Jannet Jackson, also applauds the efforts, “Last year, 44% of the approximately 28,000 students across our district took classes at more than one of the Peralta Colleges. The “Spring is Free” course fee waiver across the four colleges is one more way we are collaborating to benefit all the students in our East Bay district.”

Spring to Success Grant

Berkeley City College has offered to waive the fee for the campus center, student center, and health center for eligible students, regardless of the minimum enrolled credits. They will also provide one free meal every week, plus other perks, for students who register for at least 6 units. Students applying for a degree petition or certificate will be entered in a $250 gift card draw if they’ve completed the FAFSA, CADAA, or California Promise Grant application. However, they don’t need to actually qualify for financial aid to receive these benefits. Additionally, the college will conduct workshops throughout December to facilitate students with the application and process of financial aid. Find out more on their website.

Six for Six Incentive

Merritt College offers a “Six for Six” incentive to students taking at least 6 units if they’ve completed the FAFSA application. Benefits include free breakfast, parking, Chromebooks, WiFi hotspots, career assessment, and a $600 grant! This is yet another effort by Peralta Colleges to “put students first” and lighten the financial load to support them in continuing their education.

EOPS and CARE Programs

The Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS) program is a state-funded incentive targeting low-income and academically disadvantaged California-based students. It provides academic counseling, career guidance, book grants, tutoring, transfer support, and anything else they might need to graduate successfully! All four Peralta College campuses welcome EOPS students. Besides this, EOPS has supplemental programs like the Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE) program that exclusively accommodates single-parent students. You can learn more about eligibility for these programs in our blog about Why EOPS is Important.

SimpliTaught Partnership

SimpliTaught Partnership

Besides grants and scholarships, the College of Alameda also offers its students technology through the SimpliTaught platform. SImpliTaught uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to personalize student learning resources. This means students can learn according to their unique academic needs and preferences – it’s easy, intuitive, and helps students study twice as fast!

Learn more about how SimpliTaught can help students study fast and graduate successfully by contacting us at info@SimpliTaught.com.

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