Thanks to brand-new legislation, foster youth in California will get to attend any public, in-state university or community college for FREE.
California Will Cover “Housing, Books, Tuition, And Food” For Former Foster Youth
In a statement, Ashby noted that the agreement earmarks “$25 million to make college [debt-free] for foster youth.” These funds will allow former foster youth to “have 100% of their unmet needs covered after other aid is applied.” This includes “housing, books, tuition, and food.”
“Far too many foster youth want to go to college and are unable to afford it. This funding will ensure that California’s most vulnerable young people can take agency over their lives by seeking higher education.”
She added, “This bill provides hope that they can attend college without crippling debt—taking one critical step toward our state’s goal of making college attainable for all.”
Regarding some barriers, Ashby highlighted how “only 4% of former foster youth obtain a 4-year degree.” However, this initiative “increase[s] the likelihood that foster youth can reach their educational goals.”
“64% of foster youth graduate high school, and only 4% of former foster youth obtain a 4-year college degree, though about 96% say they want to do so.”
To improve these statistics, the legislation allows foster youth to attend any institution in the Cal State (CSU), University of California (UC), or California Community Colleges (CCC) systems for free.
Today @GavinNewsom signed the budget.
Inside that budget are many things to be proud of, including my bill to make college debt free for foster youth in California – which is now funded state law.
— Senator Angelique Ashby (@SenatorAshby) July 11, 2023
Advocates Celebrate The Legislation As A “Tremendous Victory” & “Game-Changer”
In response to the legislation, CBS 8 reports that Shane Harris—a former foster youth who heads a nonprofit called the People’s Association of Justice Advocates—remarked, “This is a tremendous victory for foster youth across California.”
“Who wouldn’t want to go to college for free, and especially when you’re in the situations many of us have been in? When you lose your parents, you don’t have the support system, you’re trying to make it though all these different challenges, and then you go to pay for college?”
Steven Jella, Chief Program Officer with San Diego Youth Services, spoke on the legislation in a statement to FOX 5.
“We’re really taking another step to break down those economic inequities that our foster youth might have and certainly increase the social connections that come with going to postsecondary education.”
Additionally, CBS 8 notes that Sen. Ashby proclaimed, “It is a game-changer, an absolute game-changer for young people in California.” Furthermore, she acknowledged how it builds on earlier initiatives set forth by the Golden State.
“The state of California has done a good job historically of paying for tuition for foster youth who find their way to college, but it didn’t cover everything. Including housing … you might as well cover nothing if you’re not going to cover the housing.”