Senator Roth Addresses California’s College Graduate Deficit

February 22, 2019

(SACRAMENTO) – Senator Richard D. Roth, Chair of Budget Sub. No. 1, Education, has introduced Senate Bill 461 to offer college students financial flexibility by making a greater investment in direct-to-student need-based financial aid. SB 461 expands the Cal Grant program, allowing students to receive an additional Summer Cal Grant award for two summer terms of up to 9 units.

While the state’s Cal Grant system is robust, it doesn’t provide dedicated funding for students who want to take advantage of summer courses.

“We must have mechanisms in place to assure our college students are successful. Students will enroll in summer session courses if there is sufficient aid to allow them to afford the higher tuition and fees. We must offer that flexibility,” said Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside). “If we don’t listen to what our students are telling us they need we not only continue to fail them, but we fail as a state.”

“The fact that over 70 percent of California State University students do not graduate within four years is ample evidence that more needs to be done. Even in the UC system, which boasts better graduation rates, the majority of first generation black and brown Pell Grant recipients still fail to graduate on time,” said Kuvimbanashe Edwin Chikukwa with the Coalition for a Better UC. “Students, administrations, public advocates, and even the California Student Aid Commission all did the calculations and came to the same conclusion, SB 461 will alleviate California’s dismal graduation deficits.”

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, if current trends persist, California will be short more than 1 million college graduates by 2030. A large impediment to increased graduation rates is the lack of financial aid available for students during summer sessions.

Senator Roth continued: “California won’t be able to meet its workforce and economic demands due in part to college students not graduating within a 4-year timeframe. We must act now to provide relief that will not only improve graduation rates but will guarantee California has a strong, competitive workforce by 2030.”

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Senator Richard D. Roth represents the 31st State Senate District, which includes the communities of Corona, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, March Air Reserve Base, Moreno Valley, Norco, Perris and Riverside. Prior to his election, he served for 32 years in the United States Air Force, retiring in 2007 in the grade of Major General.