The California Community Colleges (CCC) held their first student media teleconference for the 2021-2022 school year on Dec. 7 via Zoom.
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, the CCC chancellor, hosted the conference where he covered the “Build Back Better” agenda, COVID-19, the California AB 705 bill, enrollment, Cal Grant reform, and the CCC’s new website, icangotocollege.com.
Oakley stated President Biden proposed $3.5 trillion to go to the “Build Back Better” program. This money would go to support higher education and institutions like the CCC. Oakley said since the senate trimmed the bill to $1.75 trillion, the proposal of the first two years of community college being free was eliminated.
Oakley stated he is confident that the proposal for the first two community colleges to be free to students will be brought back for the next fiscal year’s budgeting. The chancellor said the CCC will continue to support the administration in making efforts toward this proposal. He encouraged students throughout the country to do the same in hopes that one day two years of free community college will be available to everyone in the country.
This legislation would specifically invest in workforce development, childcare expansion, clean technology, and other programs to help students prepare for the new economy, according to Oakley.
This legislation would also help fund Cal Grants. Oakley stated there was an increase in the Cal Grant reward and now undocumented students will DACA status will be eligible for Pell Grants.
“I am very appreciative and grateful to the Biden Administration for the investments they are making in students like ours,” Oakley stated.
With COVID still around and the new variant, Oakley said everyone needs to stay vigilant. He stated everyone on campus needs to stay informed, continue to get vaccinated, and wear masks.
Oakley then moved to the 2017 California bill, AB 705. According to Oakley, change the way students are supported and placed in remedial and transfer courses. The CCC is currently still working to implement AB 705 and Oakley stated there would be more successful students, specifically in English and math courses.
Finally, Oakley spoke about enrollment numbers. He stated that the effects of COVID hit their colleges hard. According to Oakley, the CCC student count dropped 14.8% from 2019. Oakley stated there is federal and state funding allowing colleges to improve student support, student outreach, and current student success.
Oakley said the drop in enrollment has disproportionately affected African-American, Native American, and Latinx students. To help the colleges, Oakley encouraged students to reach out to their peers and help faculty and staff understand the problems students are facing.
Oakley stated new Cal Grant reform would also help enrollment numbers go back up. With the passing of a new California bill, the eligibility requirements have changed. Students now have till Sept. 2 to submit their application and there is no more age requirement to apply. With more aid opportunities, Oakley hopes new students can receive the financial assistance they need to enroll or re-enroll in college.
“This is a great step in the right direction,” Oakley said. “We know we have to do more, we need to press for more support for our students, both at the state and federal level.”
For more information about financial aid, Oakley encourages students to visit the newly updated icangotocollege.com.
The next CCC teleconference will be held during the Spring 2022 semester.