By: Aileen Zhong, Policy & Programs Associate
Every year we are faced with a difficult task, to find the perfect gift for our students during the holiday season. And while you might wonder whether the student in your life really needs that extra pair of shoes or the latest iPhone you won’t have to wonder whether a gift from our list is necessary. This season the Campaign for College Opportunity wants to urge you to consider giving your student something that they, their peers and all California students could benefit from for years to come. Give your support to improving access and completion to our state’s higher education system by getting involved with the Campaign in 2017 or by making a donation today!
In just a few short years, our state will experience a huge shortage of educated workers needed to meet California’s workforce demands. Access to our public colleges and universities has been constrained, selectivity has increased, and all the while the value of a college degree is more important than ever. To address these issues, we propose six ways you can get involved and give California students the gift of equal opportunity! Our list may not fit in a box, but it’s what our students need and deserve – so let’s get to work!
- The Gift of Affordability: In 2014, 144,872 high school graduates did not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is estimated that $342,421,911 in money for college via Pell Grants went unused by eligible California students (based on average grant awards). Removing barriers to FAFSA works to ensure that every eligible California student gets the financial aid they deserve. Urge your congress member to keep college affordable by signing onto this letter.
- The Gift of Accountability: Currently, it is harder for the current generation of California high school graduates to be admitted to either a University of California or California State University than it was for past generations. California needs a bold vision for higher education that sets tangible goals for access and success in the state’s public colleges and universities to ensure that California will meet the workforce demands. Urge your local legislators and college officials to set a public agenda for higher education that meet industry needs with goals for access, completion, and closing of racial/ethnic gaps. Find your local or state office here.
- The Gift of Resources: One of the biggest challenges facing students once they arrive in college is making sure they graduate in a timely fashion. Over 70% of entering community college students are assessed into remedial education. Only 1 in 5 of these students will ever earn an AA, certificate or transfer to a four year university. California needs to continue to invest resources in high-impact models with proven outcomes to keep students on the path to post-secondary success. Urge your school officials to scale proven and successful efforts to improve college knowledge and invest in support services students need to succeed. Learn more about basic skills here.
- The Gift of Data: California has a large and diverse population where our students often experience pervasive systemic disadvantages that frequently impede educational, economic, and social progress. To close gaps in access and success in California’s public higher education system California needs to provide disaggregated data to improve educational outcomes for diverse student populations. Advocate to require data on college access and completion by race/ethnicity be used to drive higher education policy and budget decisions so that outcomes for students improve. Alternatively, help by donating to the Campaign as we work to continue to advocate for this data.
- The Gift of Funding: Students who are eligible for admission to the CSU and UC can be denied spots because of reduced enrollment targets, capacity issues, and increased demand that goes underfunded by the state budget. Only about half of the students in the CSU and community colleges earn a degree, certificate or transfer after six years. California needs to increase funding for colleges to serve more students and ensure that students successfully and quickly map out clear pathways to degrees. Encourage your state legislators to fund colleges for enrollment growth and sufficient capacity so that all Californians have a spot in college. Learn more about California’s higher education budget here.
- The Gift of Leadership: California is facing a host of social and economic challenges that are compounded by an expected shortage of 2.4 million degree and credential holders need for our workforce by 2025. The state is adrift with no overriding strategy or policy that will guide lawmakers and college administrators alike as they struggle with issues of college access, affordability, and degree completion. Advocate to establish a higher education coordinating body that strengthens coordination amongst our system of higher education and supports the successful implementation of statewide goals. Alternatively, help by donating to the Campaign as we work to continue to advocate for this type of leadership.
Give your student the gift of college opportunity and take action today by clicking here! Do you have any other gift ideas that would greatly benefit California students? Tell us in the comment section!