News & Commentary

CA Budget 2023-24: Supporting Vulnerable Learners Today to Build a Strong Economy Tomorrow

This week, Governor Newsom and state legislators reached a budget deal for California for the coming fiscal year.

Expected to be signed by midnight tonight, this budget reflects a range of investments in our state’s learners and our systems of public education, financial aid, and student support. At the time of writing, these include:

  • Base increases to all three public higher education systems, with requirements to report on how these funds were spent.
  • Enrollment growth at the CSU, UC, and California Community Colleges, with a focus on expanding California resident access at the UC.
  • Expanded financial aid for foster youth in higher education.
  • Cost of living adjustments (COLA) for targeted categorical programs at the CA Community Colleges, CSU, and UC, including: Basic Needs, Mental Health Services, Rapid Rehousing, Veterans Resource Centers, Students with Disabilities, and programs supporting success for transfer students, learners of color, foster youth, and others underserved in higher education.
  • Student housing programs and affordable housing construction.

What we feel this budget is missing, however, are clear incentives for public and private post-secondary education institutions to better support working learners and foster more earn and learn opportunities, incentives to lower the cost of attending college and ensuring that the three systems of public higher education fully live into the ideals of the state Master Plan for Higher Education.

At College Futures Foundation, we believe that securing the postsecondary success of students facing the most barriers will ensure that all of us can thrive—our communities, our economy, and our state. Postsecondary education holds the potential to advance racial, social, and economic equity, unlocking upward mobility now and for generations to come.

Therefore we are heartened to see our state leaders’ commitment to expanding opportunities for California’s most vulnerable learners and their families. The budget also maintains a commitment to the Higher Education Compacts with the UC and CSU and the California Community Colleges’ Roadmap for the Future.

Given the state’s economic realities and multiple priorities, this budget deal rightly reflects several strong connections between supporting diverse learners today and building the inclusive, robust economy that will benefit us all in the future.


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