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The true cost of attending a California community college is more than just tuition.

California community colleges serve more than 2.1 million students at 116 campuses across the state. While tuition has remained low at our community colleges, it is still difficult for most lower-income students to achieve their educational goals due to our state’s higher cost of living and the lack of adequate financial aid to cover non-tuition expenses such as textbooks, transportation, basic housing and food. Most community college students work multiple jobs to try and make ends meet. While our state has led the nation in innovative programs like the California College Promise Grant, which waives tuition for roughly 50 percent of our students, other financial aid options fall short of covering non-tuition costs that make up the majority of student expenses. Even with tuition waived, financial challenges remain the greatest obstacle to college completion.

Surprisingly, because of the disparity in financial aid options, the total cost of attending a California community college is often higher than UC or CSU. Expanding financial aid to community college students will provide the help they need to succeed in college and create a more balanced system of aid across California’s three public higher education segments.

Recognizing the importance of addressing this disparity, Senator Connie Leyva and co-authors have introduced SB 291. This bill, if enacted, will become a key component of a comprehensive California College Promise. By awarding financial aid based on the total cost of attendance, including non-tuition expenses like textbooks, housing, food and transportation, this bill will provide meaningful financial support to students with the greatest need.

Real changes in the amount of financial aid community college students can receive must not wait. It’s critical that we expand financial aid opportunities so students can complete their education in a timely manner, live more secure lives, earn higher wages and, in turn, boost the state’s economy and tax revenues.

Financial aid must help community college students cover the true cost of college – not just tuition. Add your voice here to contact your legislator and help more California community college students reach their educational goals and get into the workforce faster.

What Students Are Saying

What Leaders Are Saying

About the Bill:

SB 291 is co-sponsored by the California Community Colleges and Community College League of California


  • Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino)


  • Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco)
  • Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica)
  • Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena)
  • Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara)
  • Senator Anthony Portantino (D–La Cañada Flintridge)
  • Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica)
  • Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco)
  • Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino)
  • Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland)

Read the full text of the bill here.

Read letters of support from statewide organizations.

Organizations: please sign this letter and submit to the Assembly Higher Education Committee to be listed as a supporter in the final SB 291 Report.

Read more about expanding access to financial aid:


Press Releases:

News Stories: