There is increasing recognition in California and nationally that the financial aid students receive to attend college should address the cost of attendance beyond tuition and fees, since living expenses – particularly housing expenses – often make up the largest share of students’ budgets. Consequently, recent financial aid reform efforts at the state and federal levels have focused on aligning the structure of financial aid with the total cost of attendance.
Ensuring every student has the chance to succeed across California’s schools is the key to broadening opportunity as well as to providing our state with the skilled, productive workforce necessary to drive long-term economic growth. By analyzing state spending and other policies related to K-12 schools, community colleges, and the CSU and UC systems, the Budget Center highlights how California can strengthen its most basic investment in the state’s future and improve outcomes for all students, especially first-generation college students and those who have not been provided equitable opportunities.
Nearly 2.6 million California K-12 public school students (41.8%) bring a linguistic asset with them to school every day: living in homes where a language other than English is spoken. A majority of these students (1.4 million) demonstrate English proficiency during their school years. But students’ home language skills are often neglected at school and that means many do not receive the state biliteracy designation on their high school diplomas that could benefit students as they apply for higher education and employment opportunities.
California has a key advantage in meeting the increasing demand for a multi-lingual workforce: nearly 2.6 million K-12 public school students who live in homes where a language other than English is spoken. A majority of these students (1.4 million) have demonstrated English proficiency either when they started school or after being categorized as English learners. However, only a small share of these students have been able to demonstrate literacy in their home language — a sign that policymakers and education leaders are missing a key opportunity to leverage the language assets of the state’s students.
Every day, millions of California students come to school with an invaluable asset: living in homes where a language other than English is spoken. However, this asset is often squandered as many of these students do not become literate in their home language. Achieving biliteracy benefits the students who are proficient in more than one language, the schools and colleges they attend, and the communities where these bilingual Californians live and eventually work.
Many students from low-income households who are headed to California’s colleges know the reality: paying for their higher education will be a struggle. That’s why Competitive Cal Grants are among the critical ways to support educational opportunities for low-income students.