Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 85 into law on February 23, 2021, providing emergency financial assistance to community college students, funding for student recruitment and retention, and support for increasing enrollment in the state's CalFresh program.
“As millions of Californians are struggling to make ends meet amid the devastating impacts of this pandemic, we are taking immediate action in partnership with our legislative leadership to provide families and businesses the relief they need,” Governor Newsom said. “This critical assistance – including child care, relief for small business owners, direct cash support to individuals and households, financial aid for community college students and more – will help keep our communities afloat as the state continues to confront the immense challenges of this moment.”
Emergency Financial Relief to Support Community College Students
The bill provides $100 million of emergency financial aid funds for low-income community college students carrying six or more units with at least a 2.0 GPA, with award amounts to be determined locally and made available by early April.
The bill also invests $20 million in one-time Proposition 98 funds to increase student retention rates and enrollment by engaging with former and current community college students who have withdrawn or considering withdrawing from college due to COVID-19 as well as prospective students that may be hesitant to enroll in a community college due to COVID-19.
CalFresh Student Outreach and Application Assistance
The bill also provides roughly $6 million to support outreach and application assistance to University of California, California State University and California Community College students made newly eligible for CalFresh – the state-administered federal program for supplemental food assistance. The agreement also provides $12 million in state funds to support associated county administrative workload. The California Community Colleges are slated to receive $3.1 million of this funding, which may be used to create outreach materials, host events, support equipment needs, and application assistance, including hiring staff and student workers.