California Competes is conducting research and advocacy to drive California to streamline the myriad of financial assistance programs so students can access the supports they are entitled to and manage the costs of attending college.
California’s economic competitiveness depends on producing over two millions college graduates, but for one in six residents living in poverty, attending college may seem out of reach. While many state and federal aid programs exist to support low-income residents, many are not being fully utilized due to access barriers, siloed departments, and complex eligibility requirements. In fact, only 22% of eligible college students in California receive benefits from the CalFresh program.
Increasing awareness and access, streamlining processes, and improving coordination across the various benefit programs is vital to meeting student needs and boosting college affordability. We aim to drive the state towards better systems that automatically connect eligible Californians, who disproportionately belong to minority and underinvested populations, with all available benefits and services to accelerate their movement to financial freedom and economic prosperity.
To achieve this bold vision, California Competes is working to improve integration of social, educational, economic, and workforce development programs and services, as well as engagement of relevant government agencies so that eligible students can be identified and automatically enrolled. Through 2027, the scope of this work will include:
Analysis of programs available for college students, including eligibility requirements, support provided, and administration rules;
A student-friendly tool that will share the information gathered through the analysis;
Development of an actionable and fiscally pragmatic strategy to streamline these currently siloed supports;
Advocacy to elevate this issue and solution to the top of policymakers’ agendas and get it adopted.
By improving access to financial assistance programs, we can help more students access higher education and unlock new economic opportunities for themselves and their families. We’ll continue to share updates on our progress and look forward to partnering with others who share our commitment to making higher education more accessible and affordable for all.