April, 2021

In this Issue:

  • Housing Affordability Legislation for California's Community College Students
  • League Budget Advocacy Efforts
  • Priority Community College Legislation
  • Webinar Registration is Open for Black Student Success Week
  • Join Us for our Next GR Webinar: Tuesday, April 20 at 11:00 a.m.
  • Federal Grant Opportunities
  • Upcoming Events

Housing Affordability Legislation for California's Community College Students

More than 200 bills are in possession of the Assembly Housing & Community Development, Assembly Local Government, Senate Governance and Finance, or Senate Housing Committee. While not all of these measures are explicitly aimed at addressing California's housing affordability or homelessness crisis, it's clear that the issue is front and center with both California's policymakers and with its voters.

For example, In a March 2021 report by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), Californians & Their Government, almost 90% of those surveyed said housing was either a big or somewhat big problem for the state. Additionally, 50% of those who spoke to PPIC expressed that they were either concerned or somewhat concerned with their ability to pay their rent or mortgage, demonstrating both the pandemic's effects and the rising cost of housing in our state.

The impact of housing is also a significant barrier for students in higher education, but certainly, students at California Community Colleges face unique struggles finding affordable housing as they seek to complete their educational objectives. As the Affordability, Food and Housing Access Taskforce Report: Addressing Housing Affordability Issues, February 2021, points out: 

"affordable housing for college students is an illusion. First, financial aid programs place community college students at a disadvantage because Cal Grants only cover tuition costs, not living expenses like rent, food, and transportation. Second, affordability is a significant concern in many major urban markets because housing and apartment rental rates in California are some of the highest in the country."

The Taskforce report offered potential policy solutions to provide some additional tools they will need to make housing at community colleges more feasible to initiate and complete projects.

As the League's staff reviewed the key policy findings found in the report, it became clear that several bills had the potential to align with the Taskforce's report. Below are some of the more relevant measures that the League identified as bills of interest for the colleges and districts:

AB 306 (O'Donnell) Student and Employee Housing
This bill would exclude housing built for faculty or staff on a school or community college district property from Department of State Architect oversight, potentially expediting their construction and reducing their costs.

AB 635 (Low) California Education Finances Authority
The California Education Finance Authority (CFEA) has the authority to issue revenue bonds to assist higher education institutions in the expansion and construction of educational facilities, potentially at a more favorable rate than might otherwise be obtainable. This bill would remove certain restraints from the CFEA's ability to issue tax-exempt facility bonds for public-private partnerships. In the past 40 years, it has issued about $14 billion in bonds for 60 institutions.

AB 1377 (McCarty) Community College Student Housing
This bill establishes a revolving loan fund in which the California Community Colleges, California State University, and the University of California can access to build affordable student housing. It would also create a continuous appropriation towards the fund in which the State Treasurer can utilize as security for issuing bonds.

SB 234 (Weiner) Transition Aged Youth Housing Program
This measure provides grants to local governments and non-profits that provide transitional housing for individuals under 26 who are former foster youth experiencing homelessness. These grants can be utilized for the capital development programs to build emergency shelters, transitional housing, or permeant supportive housing.

SB 290 (Skinner) Density Bonus Law: qualifications for incentives or concessions: student housing for lower-income students
Current law requires cities and counties to grant a density bonus when an applicant for a housing development of five or more units agrees to construct a student housing development that will set aside at least 20% of the total units for lower-income students. SB 290 would provide further incentive housing for lower-income students by making such a development eligible for one incentive or concession.

League Budget Advocacy Efforts

For the second year in a row, the League will be joining with the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC) and the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC) in a series of budget advocacy meetings with state lawmakers and other policy officials during the month of April. These visits are designed to show strength through a coalition effort as the Administration and Legislature prepare for next month’s May Revision of the Governor’s January Budget Proposal.

While each of the three organizations has its own position on the budget, they have agreed to the following common messages for the upcoming visits:

  1. Increase base resources for districts, allowing them to keep pace with rising costs and maintain capacity for students and communities, without conditional requirements for receiving a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA);
  2. Increase opportunity for one-time funds to address operational needs, including scheduled maintenance;
  3. Structurally reform financial aid to better serve community college students through statutory changes and increased awards without jeopardizing Proposition 98 funds.

Since COVID protocols in the Capitol required hearings on the Governor’s budget to conclude earlier than normal, there was a significant lull in budget activity in the Capitol prior to the May Revise. As such, the League and its coalition partners viewed April as the opportune time to draw attention to the budget and each group hopes to supplement its direct lobbying with grassroots visits in legislative district office around the state.

Compared to last year’s dire forecasts, economic conditions have picked up considerably. According to the Department of Finance’s bulletin from March, preliminary General Fund cash receipts for the first eight months of the fiscal year were $14.34 billion above the 2021-22 Governor’s Budget forecast of $111.518 billion while cash receipts for the month of February were $3.801 billion above the 2021-22 Governor’s Budget forecast of $4.994 billion. This is a strong indication that the state’s budgetary condition is in significantly better shape than predicted in January with the possibility of a large surplus to be revealed in May.

It should be noted that California has aligned with the federal government in extending its tax filing deadline from April 15 to May 17 except for those who file quarterly estimated tax payments. While this delay should not impact the June 15 constitutional deadline for passage of the budget, there may be some adjustments in August through a Budget Bill Junior process to calibrate the budget more closely with actual revenues.

Priority Community College Legislation

With the 2021-22 legislative session in full gear, League staff have identified critical legislation that will have an impact on your college’s ability to serve your students. They are focused on expanding access to academic programs and reforming the state’s system of financial aid. 

As a college leader, you are integral to the advocacy process. Legislators need to hear from you on how the below pieces of legislation will help you increase student access, success, and equity.  Please stay tuned for grassroots alerts on these bills intended to provide you an opportunity to weigh in. If you have any questions on how to get involved, please contact Ryan McElhinney, the League’s Policy and Advocacy Manager at ryan@ccleague.org.

Legislation to expand access to academic programs:

AB 927 (Medina) Community College Baccalaureate Degree Programs
This bill would remove the current sunset date on the California community college baccalaureate degree program and would expand eligibility so that all community colleges could participate.

AB 102 (Holden) College and Career Access Pathways: Dual Enrollment Expansion
This bill would make the College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) program permanent and permit community college districts to enter into CCAP programs with County Offices of Education.

League Perspective: Community colleges have successfully utilized baccalaureate degrees and CCAP partnerships to expand access to higher education for underserved populations. Both programs serve critical roles in fulfilling unmet needs in both spheres – K-12 education and demand for baccalaureate degrees not currently offered by the CSU and UC.

Legislation to attempt to simplify and expand access to the state’s Cal Grant program:

AB 1456 (Medina) Cal Grant Reform
This bill would consolidate the current state financial aid funding streams into two programs – one for two-year students and the other for four-year students – and expand the number of eligible students. The proposed award for community college students would focus on access costs while the four-year award would be tied to tuition at the UC and CSU.

Cal Grant 2 – Community College Students

  • Provides an access award of $1,250 (currently at $1,656).
  • Removes eligibility requirements relating to age, GPA and time out of high school.
  • Will increase the number of students eligible for the award but does not provide additional funding for those students.
  • Without increased funding, individual student award levels will go down.

Cal Grant 4 – Four Year Institutions

  • Award level tied to tuition.
  • Removes eligibility requirements relating to age, GPA and time out of high school.
  • Increases funding for the program so that newly eligible students will continue to receive the same level of awards as the current program.

League Perspective: This proposal is a good step forward in that it expands the number of eligible students and simplifies the state’s Cal Grant system. The change in eligibility requirements will make it easier for non-traditional students to qualify for Cal Grant awards. For example, the removal of age and time out of high school requirements will make it easier for those who spent time in the workforce but decided to come back to school to further their education to qualify for financial aid.

However, the legislation proposes to keep the total funding of the awards at the same level, despite the increased number of newly eligible students. Thus, the individual awards will go down, from $1,656 today to $1,250. In contrast, the program both increases the number of four-year students who would be eligible for a financial aid award and increases the amount of funding available to them to ensure their level of awards will not go down. It, therefore, perpetuates the current inequity in award levels between students at four-year and two-year institutions.

Webinar Registration is Open for Black Student Success Week

Registration is now open for Black Student Success Week's daily webinar series: The Black Hour. Throughout the week, April 26-30th, The Black Hour will share insights and approaches for improving student success among Black and African American students at California’s community colleges. Webinars will be held from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. and are open to California Community College administrators, staff, faculty, practitioners, and students.

To register for the webinars, click here. For updates regarding the week follow @cablackstudents on Twitter and Instagram.

Join Us for our Next Webinar: Tuesday, April 20 at 11:00 a.m.

Join the League's Monthly Government Relations Webinar on Tuesday, April 20 at 11:00 am for legislative and policy updates.

2021 Webinar Schedule
Every third Tuesday of the month, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 20
Tuesday, May 18
Tuesday, June 15
Tuesday, July 20
Tuesday, August 17
Tuesday, September 21
Tuesday, October 19

Webinar Details
Telephone Number: (646) 876-9923 or (669) 900-6833
Zoom Meeting ID: 623 780 059
Passcode: 550660

Be sure to register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the webinar.

Federal Grant Opportunities

Presented by Downs Government Affairs

The League, in partnership with Downs Government Affairs, provides a list of federal grants to assist your community college in improving its programs and services. If you have any questions about the following grants, please feel free to reach out to Thomas Downs at TCDowns@downsgovaffairs.com.

For a full list of federal grants available to community colleges, visit our Federal Grants page at www.ccleague.org/federal-grant-opportunites

Upcoming Events

CCPRO Conference
April 9, 16, 23, 30 | Virtual Conference

Consultation Council
April 15

Black Student Success Week
April 26-30 | Daily Webinars (12:00-1:00 p.m.)

Board of Governors Meeting
May 24-25

AACC Digital
Every Thursdays in May | Online Conference

Annual Trustees Conference
May 5 - 7 | Virtual Conference

For more information, contact the League's Government Relations and Communications staff: advocacy@ccleague.org

Follow League Tracked Bills at www.ccleague.org/advocacy/bill-tracking
For news related to the State Budget and Policy visit www.ccleague.org/advocacy