Cal_State_LAThe following comes from an Aug. 21 email sent by the Catholic Legislative Network, an arm of the California Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Urgent – Act Now to Increase College Access & Affordability for 177,000+ Students

The clearest path to the American Dream is a college degree. However a majority of students are spending too much time working one or more jobs to pay for books and living expenses, impacting their learning experience and delaying graduation. Allowing them to focus more on their studies instead will help them stay enrolled and graduate.  Those who don’t drop out due to costs are graduating with crippling debt. To help our neediest students get into, be successful in, and complete college we need to be creative.

SB 174 and SB 798 would increase the opportunity for low-income students to better attain a higher education by helping them pay for textbooks, transportation, rent, food, health care and other living expenses.  These bills will increase the Cal Grant B Access Award amount for California’s lowest income students, through $500 million in available tax credits in the College Access Tax Credit Fund and leveraging federal tax deductions for charitable contributions.

Combined SB 174/SB 798 will help make learning in all sectors of higher education affordable for financially deserving, academically qualified California students — those who attend public institutions as well as independent nonprofit colleges.  This bill provides a innovative and fundamentally necessary approach aimed at increasing access and affordability for students who are pursuing a higher education.

As the U.S. Bishops affirmed in Political Responsibility: Proclaiming the Gospel of Life, Protecting the Least Among Us, and Pursuing the Common Good: “All persons of whatever race, sex, condition, or age, by virtue of their dignity as human beings, have an inalienable right to a quality education.” This principle extends from early childhood development, through a students’ elementary and high school learning, and into opportunities for a college education.

Please join us in asking the Governor to sign SB 174 and SB 798 which together will create incentives that more than double Cal Grant B Access Awards for over 177,000 low-income students at no cost to the state.