Higher education advocates in California wrote to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday calling for the utilization of state and federal relief funds to provide emergency financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic for more than 82,000 low-income California college students, including nearly 12,000 undocumented students supported by the California Dream Act.
They also called for a one-time increase to the state’s Cal Grant B Access Award program to provide emergency financial relief for college students hit hardest by the pandemic
Formal letters with these requests were submitted by higher education advocates, including California Student Aid Commission executive director Marlene Garcia and California Community Colleges chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, to Newsom, according to a press statement from the commission.
“Nearly 12,000 students who are recipients of Cal Grant B financial aid awards desperately need the State’s help,” said Garcia, according to the statement. “The fact that these students are undocumented makes them ineligible for any federal stimulus funding under the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance, which only underscores the dire need to provide emergency aid as they pursue a college education.”
Ortiz Oakley highlighted the importance of community college students during the pandemic.
“It is unimaginable to me that we would not provide relief to tens of thousands of our lowest-income, hardest-working students,” said Ortiz Oakley. “Eighty percent of Cal Grant B recipients are community college students, the very people who are among the essential workers on the front lines fighting COVID-19.”