The Coalition for a Better UC launched a campaign in the fall of 2017 focused on passing Assembly Bill 3153, which will extend financial aid from Cal Grant into summer sessions.
The campaign is expected to end in June of 2018 when the State Assembly will vote on the bill.
The coalition is requesting that the funding for this aid increase come from Governor Jerry Brown’s “Rainy Day Fund.”
Brown’s fund, which will amount to $13.5 billion by the summer of 2019 avoids raising taxes for the extended aid, according to Eddy Chikukwa the president and founder of the Coalition.
The University of California’s Office of the President (UCOP) estimated the total cost of summer tuition for all the UCs, Cal States and community colleges would be $148 million a year, which is 1 percent of Brown’s Rainy Day Fund.
Chikukwa, a third-year political science and philosophy double major, said he was inspired to start this campaign when he began working for the UC Santa Barbara Office of Financial Aid earlier last year.
The Board of Directors for the Cal State campuses are meeting in April to discuss and potentially approve the Bill.
“[The board] saying they’ll legitimize it, means 23 Cal States and the 450,000 students they represent said they’re [in support of] this. It’s a really big deal for negotiating leverage with legislators,” Chikukwa said.
According to Chikukwa, the coalition organizers alongside the University of California Student Association (UCSA) and the UC Regents will be going to Sacramento from March 24 to March 26 to present the bill to state legislators and ask for support.
The Associated Students (A.S.) passed a resolution on March 7 supporting this campaign.
The resolution was presented by Mayela Morales, legislative outreach director for the Coalition, and Justice Dumlao, a third-year global studies major and communication director for the Coalition.
UC Irvine’s A.S. passed their own resolution on Feb. 15 sponsoring the Coalition’s campaign, and UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside and UC Merced are among others that are discussing their involvement.
“The most telling signs that someone is going to graduate [in four years] is income level,” Director of Student Outreach for the Coalition, Chadwyck Moore said.
According to a study done by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) in 2015, California will see a decrease of 1.1 million college graduates by 2030 due to lack of financial aid.
Chikukwa and the rest of the Coalition began promoting the idea of extending the Cal Grant into summer sessions in order to increase the amount of students that graduate out of UC’s and Cal States within four years.
“[The Coalition’s] whole motive was to educate people first, and then build legislative support,” said Chikukwa.
To make the bill more appealing to legislators, the Coalition is asking students to sign a petition in support of it, according to Moore, a fourth-year political science major.
“We need to show [the legislators] that students are behind this and are watching every step of the way,” Chikukwa said.
The Cal Grant is expected to include undocumented students as well as offer more financial aid to students from middle income families, added Chikukwa.
The Coalition’s platform that was presented to the A.S. claims that the campaign is a small step in the efforts to keep students from marginalized backgrounds in school and to “ultimately create free higher education institutions.”
“We students need to take this matter into our own hands. Taking out loans.. only increases the over $1.3 trillion of student debt nationwide,” said Morales, a fourth-year global and chicanx studies double major. “I’m very optimistic that this bill will be approved.”
Correction: This article inaccurately reported that the funding will be officially coming from Governor Brown’s “Rainy Day Fund,” and has been corrected to show that the Coalition for a Better UC is recommending it come from Brown’s Fund.