This month, California legislators made news when they opted to provide community-college students with nearly $500 million in emergency financial assistance, a recognition of the extreme poverty and instability some students face.
Turns out, something similar is happening in Washington, but at a smaller scale — and leaders of two-year Washington schools are working to give more to their students, too.
New legislation in California allows community colleges to dip into an existing $475.2 million Student Equity and Achievement Program fund, and use the aid for emergency assistance grants, according to Inside Higher Ed.
The fund was previously earmarked for student success services, including tutoring, peer mentoring programs and equity-focused professional development for faculty, according to Inside Higher Ed — but individual students weren’t able to use it.
Now, community colleges can tap into the money to use for their students at risk of dropping out of school — and face an unexpected financial burden, like a sudden eviction or a medical emergency. It’s not meant to support a long-term financial challenge.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bills Friday.
Colleges can apply for emergency grant money through the State Board until Oct. 24. Once the board allocates funds, the schools can then distribute the money to eligible students.
The emergency aid comes as Washington doubles down on college affordability. During the last legislative session, the state passed a sweeping financial aid bill intended to help families who make up to the state’s median income by paying for a portion or all of a student’s tuition. It’s expected to help about 110,000 students go to college each year.
While the extra aid will increase access for students, Frasier said, several emergency aid programs are already set up in most Washington community colleges, including Bellevue College, Cascadia College, Clark College, Shoreline Community College, Tacoma Community College and Seattle Central College. Many develop their own foundations to spearhead the project.
For the original article click here: https://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/california-approved-nearly-500-million-in-emergency-financial-aid-for-community-college-students-could-washington-be-next/