California’s $308 billion 2022–23 budget agreement makes sizable investments to transform higher education, including funding to strengthen alignment between higher education and workforce, increase college access and success for adults, improve access to and effectiveness of online education, launch data collection efforts, and expand coordination between higher education segments, K–12 education, workforce development, and social services. In addition, the compacts with the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) and the California Community Colleges (CCC) roadmap summarized in our May Revision analysis underscore many of these goals, with the aim of providing predictable and sustainable funding increases over the next five years. As our future economic climate looks hazy, these significant investments to modernize higher education and workforce development will help stabilize our state economy and support individual Californians’ economic health.
Below, we highlight the budget provisions that align with California Competes’s policy priorities to reimagine a higher education system that serves all Californians.
“We applaud California’s lawmakers for investing in higher education pathways to good jobs and opening college opportunities for underserved student populations, including adult Californians. Our state is taking the right steps towards higher education equity and securing a vibrant Californian economy.”
—Dr. Su Jin Jez, California Competes Executive Director
Higher Education and Workforce Alignment
For a strong economy and thriving communities, California needs greater alignment between higher education and the workforce. The budget makes investments to build and strengthen education-to-workforce pathways, including new programs that address workforce shortages in specific fields and regions and new funding for apprenticeships.
Work-Based Learning: Funding for programs that provide students experience in the workplace tied to their program of study, such as apprenticeships and internships
Learning-Aligned Employment Program: $300 million one-time funding for underrepresented students at public colleges to earn money through educational and career-related work opportunities to defray college costs. This California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) program was created by the 2021 Budget Act with an initial $200 million allocation.
California For All College Service Program: A California version of AmeriCorps, the budget allocates $65 million to provide students $10,000 for work with community-based organizations on state policy priority areas of K-12 education, climate action, and food insecurity. This program was created by the 2021 Budget Act, is administered by the Office of Planning and Research, and will sunset in 2025-26.
California Healthy School Meals Pathway Program: $45 million one-time funding to California Community Colleges (CCC) to support the implementation of a pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship, and a fellowship workforce training pipeline program for school food service workers.
California Kids Investment and Development Savings Program (CalKIDS): $187 million in total ongoing and one-time funds for the college savings account program created in 2021. The program allows participants to use program savings for costs of budget includes technical adjustments to allow expenses at registered apprenticeship programs.
Workforce Alignment: Funding to support strong connections between education and good jobs in in-demand industries
Workforce and Economic Development Program: Extends the sunset date of the $23 million (ongoing) California Community Colleges program by two years.This program creates a regional structure to facilitate engagement between CCCs and employers.
Healthcare-Focused Adult Education Pathways: $130 million one-time funding spread across three years for the CCCs to support the healthcare-focused vocational pathways for English language learners through the Adult Education Program.
K–12 Educator Training: $20 million one-time funding to accelerate teacher preparation and training, including competitive grants to public and private institutions to develop integrated teacher preparation programs.
Workforce Programs at College of the Redwoods: $10 million one-time funding to create an allied health education center and $500,000 one-time funding to develop a nursing program.
California Center for Climate Change Education at West Los Angeles College: $5 million one-time funding for the creation of a new center focused on climate change with the mission of providing students an opportunity to engage in hands-on internships and other work-based learning opportunities.
Cal Bridge Program: $5 million one-time funding (split between CSU and UC) for continued support for students from traditionally underrepresented groups in completing bachelors and PhD degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Cybersecurity Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnerships Pilot Program: $4 million one-time funding to address the cybersecurity workforce shortage through the creation of cybersecurity education and workforce pilot programs on CSU campuses, with preference given to CSU campuses that are developing regional pathways programs from the CCC to CSU.
Agriculture Career Technical Education Incentive Grant: $2 million ongoing funding for K–12 local education agencies to improve the quality of their agriculture career technical programs.
College Access and Success For Adults
Currently, 6.8 million Californians over the age of 25 have a high school diploma but no college degree. These adults face challenges finding jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage, while employers in the state struggle to find candidates with the right credentials and skillset. Adults need flexible higher education options as they often balance education, work, and childcare responsibilities. The budget, along with the accompanying higher education compacts and roadmap, include several targeted investments for better serving adult learners, including supporting student parents and justice-impacted students, expanding flexible learning modalities, and addressing affordability.
Access for Adults with Some College But No Degree
CCC Student Retention and Enrollment: $150 million one-time funding to support CCC efforts to reenroll students that left during the pandemic and to retain current students. Funding is for high touch strategies to engage or reengage students and builds off a prior investment in 2021.
Investing in Care for Children: Over $840 million to increase access to affordable, quality childcare for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, along with support for childcare providers.
Strengthening Transitional Kindergarten (TK): Over $1.6 billion to create more facilities for TK, kindergarten, and preschool classrooms, expand TK eligibility and staffing, as well as support planning and implementation efforts.
Expanding Access to After School Programs: $3 billion ongoing (adding to $1 billion ongoing and $753 million one-time funding from the 2021 budget) for the Expanded Learning Opportunity Program, which will increase after-school and summer options for school-age children.
Hire Up Pilot Program: $30 million one-time funding for up to 10 CCC districts to support formerly incarcerated students to reenter the labor market.
Rising Scholars Program: $15 million ongoing to continue support for CCC juvenile justice impacted students.
Underground Scholars Program: $4 million ongoing for UC to provide support to formerly incarcerated students.
Project Rebound: $3 million ongoing for CSU to provide support services to justice-involved students.
Flexible Learning Models
Credit for Prior Learning (CPL): The CCC roadmap includes a goal for the system to establish a baseline for CPL offerings and to increase these offerings annually.
Competency Based Education (CBE): The CCC roadmap lays out a goal to increase systemwide access to and enrollment in direct-assessment CBE programs by 15 percent.
Military Articulation Platform Expansion: $2 million one-time investment to expand Riverside Community College District’s Military Articulation Platform, which translates military experience and training into college credit.
Cal Grant Reform Act: Approves the Cal Grant Reform Act, which simplifies the financial aid process, removes barriers that keep low-income adult learners from accessing aid, and provides aid based on the total cost of attendance. This year’s budget allocates $500,000 one-time funding to support initial Cal Grant Reform Act implementation costs. The program will be implemented in 2024-25 if that year’s budget provides funding.
CCC Student Success Completion Grants: $250 million ongoing to increase award amounts and include funding to students, particularly adult learners, who are newly eligible for the award through changes made to the Cal Grant program in 2021 (elimination of age and time out of high school requirements).
CCC California College Promise Program: $25 million ongoing to expand the grant program, which waives enrollment fees for low-income students. With this change, all full-time students who have not earned a degree or credential are eligible regardless of whether they are first-time students or not. Previously, the program was restricted to first-time students, thereby limiting returning adults’ ability to access aid.
Cal Grant Access Awards for Student Parents at Independent Colleges: $10 million ongoing to extend the supplemental Cal Grant support for foster youth and students with dependent children to attend an independent, nonprofit California college or university. The budget also continues to provide funding for Cal Grants for student parents at the public higher education segments.
Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program: Adds $750 million in funding to build or expand student housing on 26 public campuses ($700 million was provided in the 2021 budget). Intersegmental housing projects were prioritized for approval. The budget also signals intent to provide $1.8 billion in 2023–24 and 2024–25 to support a revolving loan fund for future student housing projects at the three public segments.
Quality and Effective Online Education
Quality online education provides course flexibility for students who are balancing education with jobs, childcare, and other responsibilities and paves the way to increase higher education attainment rates among adult learners. Increasing courses delivered through this modality also allows colleges to expand enrollment capacity without building new facilities.
Online Courses: The UC and CSU compacts funded through the budget outline expectations to increase online course offerings (UC to double its 2020 level by 2030; CSU to increase by 15 percent over pre-pandemic levels and triple concurrent enrollment in online courses by 2025).
Calbright College: $15 million in continued support for the online-only California Community College focused on adult learners.
Data For Education and Employment
Limited institutional and student level data hinders the state’s ability to understand the effectiveness of policies and programs to increase student access, equity, and success. For this reason, standing up the Cradle-to-Career data system and increasing data collection and analysis should be a priority for California. The budget makes several investments in better data collection, including:
Cradle-to-Career Data System: $12 million in continued funding for the development of the Cradle-to-Career Data System.
CalFresh Data Dashboard: Adopts trailer bill language requiring the Department of Social Services to publish data specific to students’ receipt of CalFresh on its existing CalFresh Data Dashboard and to update the dashboard as additional data becomes available.
Data Coordination: The higher education compacts and roadmap include expectations for data collection across segments, including entering into data sharing agreements, creating a Student Success Dashboard, and fully participating in the Cradle-to-Career Data System.
Coordinated Policy Setting
Greater coordination between higher education segments, K–12, workforce development, and social services can create more seamless support that puts students at the center. Several investments in the budget create mechanisms for coordination with an eye to creating a system that works for Californians.
Strengthened Intersegmental Pathways
Career Readiness Pathways: $500 million to develop local partnerships between K–12, higher education, and employers focused on technology (including computer science, green technology, and engineering), health care, education (including early education), and climate-related fields.
Dual Enrollment: $200 million one-time funding for K–12 and higher education dual enrollment programs that couple with student advising.
Common Course Numbering: $105 million one-time to fund the implementation of a common course numbering system across the CCC. The 2021 legislation also requires the CCC to coordinate with the UC, CSU, and private nonprofit institutions on common course numbering for the 20 highest-demanded majors creating seamless pathways that support student success.
Intersegmental Curricular Pathways: $25 million one-time funding for the CCC to procure and implement software that clearly maps out intersegmental curricular pathways to help students choose a pathway, facilitate streamlined transfer between segments, and reduce excess units taken on the path to degree or program completion.
Centralized Admissions System: The higher education compacts and roadmap include an expectation for CCC, CSU, and UC to create an integrated admissions platform which will streamline the admissions process for students.
Coordination to Address Students’ Basic Needs
Implementation of CalFresh expansion: Supplements $35 million one-time funds to the $16 million in federal funds from 2021 for county administration costs to expand eligibility for college students, including support outreach and application assistance to UC, CSU, and CCC students. During the pandemic, working requirements for low-income college students were removed.
CCC Basic Needs Centers: $10 million ongoing for increases to support Basic Needs Centers and Coordinators at each CCC campus. The budget also requires CCCs that participate in the California College Promise Program to partner with county human services agencies to maximize resources students have to address their basic needs.
College Homeless and Housing Insecure Pilot Program: $10 million ongoing for increases to the CCC rapid rehousing program established in 2019 to support students facing for homelessness or housing insecurity.
The budget and the accompanying higher education compacts and roadmap include vital investments that will support current and future students in California. Making these investments and setting forth a strategic plan, as reflected in the higher education agreements, are the first steps towards higher education reform in such a large and diverse state. To ensure California achieves its ambitious goals, state and education leaders must invest as much attention into not only creating these equity-centered policies and programs but also on their implementation and ensuring systems have the capacity to effectively execute. Especially as a future recession looms for California, we must not wait until it hits to consider what to do. Now is the time to prepare and secure a system infrastructure that will support Californians’ ability to persevere through an economic downturn.
California Competes will continue to be attentive to not only identifying smart solutions but also how our state implements them. We will consider not only today’s context but also what’s on the horizon that should guide today’s actions. We look forward to continued and new partnerships with policymakers, advocates, and other key stakeholders this year and future years to come.