Governor signs higher education bills


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Gov. Jerry Brown signed three new laws to help California’s college students.

Luke Straub, Staff Writer

Gov. Jerry Brown signed three new education bills into law Sept. 20 and 21, including one that guarantees homeless students access to showers at Santa Rosa Junior College. All three laws will take effect in January 2017.

The first of three bills requires community colleges with campus showers to provide homeless students with shower access. Members of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges lobbied for the shower access bill with their own money, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

“That’s going to clear [students’] minds of some stress for sure,” said third-year student Ali Benzerara. “When a student has to worry about getting something to eat, being clean and thinking about what other people think, which is natural, it’s going to be much harder for them to focus on school.”

Two additional bills are intended to help students graduate from the California State University system in four years by providing priority registration, extra advising and additional preparation for younger students.

The California Promise bill, penned by Senator Steven M. Glazer (D-Orinda), guarantees priority registration and additional advising to students who enroll in 30 units per year at a California State University.

“Many CSU students want to finish in four years, but they need help charting the path,” Glazer said. “This bill directs resources to students who likely need the most help.”

Glazer was on CSU’s board of trustees from 2011 to 2015.

First generation students, Pell grant-eligible students and students from underrepresented areas of the state who qualify will be guaranteed admission into the Promise Program. Community college students with an associate degree for transfer will be guaranteed admission as well.

A minimum of 15 CSU campuses will have Promise Programs established in time to accept transfer students in January 2017.  That number will grow to 20 the following year.

The new California College Promise Grant Program bill works with the California Promise program, earmarking $15 million to help students transition from high school to two-year and four-year colleges. The bill was inspired by the Obama administration’s focus on community colleges as well as established promise programs in California, according to the governor’s website.

Assemblymembers Rodriguez and Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) wrote the bill.

“[The promise grant program] will empower community college districts across the state to prepare students early and put them on a path towards a meaningful career,” Rodriguez said.

During the signing, Brown praised the CSU board of trustees on its new 2025 Graduation Initiative, which intends to double the number of students who graduate in four years to 40 percent.

The initiative also aims to eliminate achievement gaps among students.
California is providing $35 million in one-time funding to help the CSU system achieve its goals by 2025.

“These bills, coupled with [the 2025 Graduation Initiative], create conditions that allow students to timely graduate and avoid the burden of extra tuition,” Brown said.