Survival and recovery from the pandemic have opened our eyes to the many urgent measures that our society urgently needs to overtake. We must start where education and justice requirements intersect first, in order to have the greatest impact on improving living conditions with investments that will bring the greatest benefit to the US economy.
In our minds, that means doing everything we can to support our lowest-income students. Increasing financial support for lower-income students translates into higher ROI in the short term by enabling community colleges to retrain and qualify workers for jobs in the 21st century. In the long term, such an investment will lead to increased consumer spending, increased income tax revenues and a healthy sustainable economic recovery.
Just a five percent increase in degrees could generate additional government revenue of $ 4.2 billion.
A proposal going through the state legislature, the Cal Grant Equity Framework, will begin to address some of the long-standing grant inequalities that persist in higher education, particularly for California’s community colleges. Not only will more community college students be served under the framework, but more students from all walks of life in California higher education will be eligible for grants while maintaining current tuition and fee covers or maximum award amounts.
The equity framework complements the governor’s proposed state budget and brightens the future for students trying to succeed through higher education while also helping the economy. The California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program will provide an additional $ 1.5 billion, bringing the total investment to $ 4 billion. This program offers grants up to $ 25,000 to small businesses affected by the pandemic.
The community colleges know something about helping our state’s critical small businesses. The 116 college system serves as the California workforce pipeline. The same small businesses support the local economy across Los Angeles County, making the community college-business relationship extremely pleasant.
Our college system supports the hope, aspirations, and success of nearly a quarter of a million credit and non-credit students whom it proudly serves annually in the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) district. The colleges train students who will become the essential, productive engines that drive the economic wheel, either straight out of community college or after moving to a four-year university.
In our local communities, community college programs provide the education and qualifications for those who help businesses run. With this workforce, companies can improve their opportunities while contributing to a thriving regional economy that is inclusive and globally competitive, the very mission of our regional chamber.
A fair grant package investment that will help the unemployed and underemployed re-enter the labor market with short-term certificates and get medium-sized jobs with living wages is the result of an investment that will sustain our economy. It can have cross-generational effects.
The Cal Grant Equity Framework will expand access to grants to more than 280,000 students and remove outdated barriers to justice, such as old age and early school leaving, that are used to ration grants.
The LACCD is one of the largest community college districts in the country and many local business leaders understand the need and support the essential first step in modernizing our state financial assistance system to conform to new federal aid guidelines and enable higher education. reachable for thousands more students.
So let’s tell our lawmakers and our governor that voting on smart financial aid reform is a wise return on investment that goes hand in hand with the governor’s thoughtful budgetary investments. Now is the time to invest in California’s economic backbone – tomorrow’s workforce – and support the Cal Grant Equity Framework.
Francisco C. Rodriguez is Chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District, which has nine locations. Maria Salinas is President and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Both live in Los Angeles County.