Students are concerned about the limited number of places and the effectiveness of a state program in which scholarships are awarded to students who complete a certain number of hours of community service.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced the Californians for All College Corps program Jan. 18 to support students in debt and communities across California. A total of 45 universities participate in the program, including several schools from the University of California and California State University.
Students who participate in the program will receive a $10,000 scholarship for completing 450 hours of community service in one year, Amanda Finzi-Smith, acting program director for the Black Bruin Resource Center at UCLA, said in a statement sent by email. They will receive $7,000 during the year for living expenses and $3,000 at the end of the program, Finzi-Smith added.
The program was created by Newsom, director of services Josh Fryday and California Volunteers, a state office aimed at increasing community service. Newsom hopes to eventually expand outside of California, Julie Goggins, communications manager for California Volunteers, said in an emailed statement.
Applications will open in the spring and the program will begin in the fall, Goggins said.
Finzi-Smith said UCLA has not yet decided on the exact timing or requirements for college body program applications.
UCLA will be able to accept 150 students into the program, Finzi-Smith said. She added that 60 to 75 scholarships will go to Deferred Action Students for Childhood Arrivals, and the rest will go to students eligible for the Pell Scholarship.
Smith said she, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Monroe Gorden Jr. and Student Affairs Scholarship Writer Valeria Shepard applied for a grant to bring the program to UCLA. Gorden was the principal investigator, Shepard wrote the grant, and Smith led the proposal team, Finzi-Smith said.
Goggins said the program will have a four-pronged positive impact on students, schools, communities and society. Students will benefit from scholarships and volunteer experience, while schools can serve their communities and help students graduate on time, she added. Additionally, communities will be improved as services increase and society gains new civic-minded leaders, she said.
Program leaders chose to prioritize community service work for California’s most pressing issues, Goggins said.
Corps fellows will work in the areas of K-12 education, climate action and food insecurity, she said.
She added that Californians for All aims to inspire students to volunteer, make it easier for students from diverse backgrounds to pay for their college and graduate education on time, and support community service organizations throughout California. .
Students were happy to see the emphasis on volunteerism and service in California, but expressed concerns about effectiveness compared to other programs for college affordability.
Simi Rehill, a third-year communications transfer student, said she plans to apply to the program because she enjoys volunteering and having the opportunity to give back to the community.
“I’m really excited about (the program) because I think it achieves a goal that not only benefits students but also their communities by making education more accessible and affordable,” Rehill said.
Rehill added that as a transfer student, she has seen California try to make community college more affordable, and it’s important the state expands its efforts for more financial aid to four-year colleges.
However, the program may face a problem with competitive selections since UCLA is a big school, Rehill added. She said she hopes they can expand the scholarship to more people because otherwise it might only have a small-scale effect at UCLA.
Rehill also said 450 hours of community service could be a lot for students to manage, especially for those on the quarterly system schedule. However, she said tuition money could spur students to prioritize volunteer work.
Jiseon Kim, a fourth-year history transfer student, said she appreciates that the program is suitable for low-income students, especially those enrolled in DACA.
“A lot of students who qualify for this program would be affected by the issues they will face,” Kim said. “It’s a powerful program to help students pay for their education by providing them with a living allowance, but also (giving back) to communities.”
However, Kim said she was concerned that the living allowance would reduce other financial aid opportunities for students, as they would have to record income when reapplying for financial aid next year.
Jose Fernandez, a third-year political science student, said the $146 million invested in the Californians for All program would be better spent expanding the Cal Grant to support more students.
Volunteering is a great way to discover passions and help communities, but attending college shouldn’t be contingent on completing community service, Fernandez added.
Fernandez said the California state government should instead focus more on encouraging the federal government to offer free tuition to students with household incomes below $125,000.
“Rather than pass something like this, … the state government should pressure the federal government and the Biden administration to do what they campaigned for,” Fernandez said.
However, Newsom hopes the program can serve as an example for other states to improve college affordability and empower students, Goggins said.
Goggins added that Californians for All is the state’s largest investment in a college community service program in California history.
“Governor Newsom not only hopes to expand the program to other communities in California, but also hopes the program will be replicated across the country,” Goggins said.