Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation at California State University, Northridge last Wednesday. Credit: Office of the Governor

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed several bills last week that will help improve the transfer process for California community college students to the state’s public university systems, as well as improve college affordability. 

The latest bills signed last week are a part of the state’s $47.1 billion investment in the state’s higher education system. 

Gov. Newsom signed the legislation to help aid access to the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems — helping students to attain four-year degrees and help further prepare them. 

This is being done in a number of ways – from creating more slots for Cal States and UCs, making it easier to transfer to a four-year college out of community colleges, improving housing affordability, and making financial aid more accessible to students across the state.

“We’re turning commitments into reality by ensuring that our students have more access to high-quality educational opportunities, creating a change of course for generations to come and bolstering California’s innovation economy,” Newsom said in a news release.

One of the most notable bills passed in the package is Assembly Bill 928. This bill requires the 23 California State University campuses and nine undergraduate campuses of the University of California system to establish a joint singular lower-division general education pathway for transfer. 

It also requires the California Community Colleges to place students who declare a transfer goal on an associate degree for transfer pathway for their intended major. All of this comes in hopes of students being able to take the needed classes, without going through any loopholes and having a more straightforward approach to the transfer process.

Newsom also signed AB 1111 — which requires all 116 community colleges in the state to adopt a common course-numbering system. This essentially ensures that similar courses at any California community college are aligned so they fulfill the same transfer requirements for CSU and UC systems. It also will mandate more common courses across the board at all UC and CSU schools. 

For UC transfer students like Brooke Ivy, this change is appreciated. 

“Some UC schools don’t even have the basic majors like business or nursing. Hopefully this will allow students to have more options when they are ready to transfer,” Ivy said. 

Another needed piece of this package that students have voiced is the financial aspect, which Newsom hopes to defeat. 

Newsom’s California Comeback Plan requires all students to submit a Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act application by 2022 in order to significantly increase federal aid opportunities for California students, signing legislation himself to further expand this support. 

“Living costs are more than advertised. Prices of a lot of other things that you need aren’t shown when you transfer, and you end up paying for them,” Ivy stated. “I think that making aid more accessible, and really helping students at all levels with their applications is really going to alleviate a lot of stress. It takes an insane amount of time, and the process is all over the place and so difficult to navigate. Many schools are different, so this should help everyone get onto the same page a little bit more.”

Newsom poses with UC and CSU students after signing legislation last Wednesday. Credit: Office of the Governor

Also included are investments to make college savings accounts widely available to low-income children; provide grants to advance training and education for workers impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic; promote learning-aligned, long-term career development opportunities; and support regional K-16 education collaboratives focused on streamlining educational pathways leading to in-demand jobs.

“Californians have thrived at our world-class universities for decades, but not everyone has had similar access – today that’s changing. Everyone deserves a shot at the ‘California Dream’ – we’re eliminating equity gaps and increasing opportunities at our universities to make those dreams a reality for more California students,” Newsom said. 

The $47.1 billion higher education package is the highest level of state funding in history. 

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