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California to Remove Barriers for College Students with Children

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation today to support student parents at community colleges, California State University (CSU), and University of California (UC). Authored by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), AB 2881 will remove barriers to degree attainment for student parents and bring greater attention to their needs.

“The journey to and through college is challenging for many students, but it is even more difficult for the over 202,000 college students in California who are also parents,” said Assemblymember Berman. “Not only must most student parents balance working while also going to school, but they must also juggle their child’s schedule. The disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the needs of student parents, whose challenges multiplied as school and child care interruptions put even greater demands on their time and attention. AB 2881 will give student parents priority registration and other critical supports so they can achieve their educational dreams while raising a family.”

"As an undergraduate and a parent, I struggled to stay enrolled in college and dropped out twice before returning. I benefited from priority registration due to my low-income status and learning disability. But not all students qualify. AB 2881 will help the most underrepresented students who are already at a high risk of dropping out of college. It will help create a successful future for their children and future generations as well," said CSU Fullerton student Maria Linares.

“We applaud Governor Newsom and Assemblymember Berman for recognizing the extraordinary challenges experienced by student parents as they shoulder family responsibilities while pursuing their college education. AB 2881 will provide much-needed assistance with class scheduling while connecting them with additional resources that will be helpful as they continue their studies and work towards securing rewarding careers," said Miguel Leon, Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives for the Michelson Center for Public Policy.

“As a national advocacy organization that works to uplift young adults, we at Young Invincibles believe that access to priority registration through AB 2881 will significantly expedite student parents’ coursework completion and will enable them to build a better, more financially stable life for themselves and their families. As proud co-sponsors of AB 2881, we are ready for the positive effect that this policy will have on the many student parents that are currently balancing the deeply demanding needs of parenting and continuing education. We thank Assemblymember Marc Berman for his authorship and continued support of marginalized students.”

A March 2021 research brief from Wheelhouse at the University of California, Davis, examined the student parent population and found that among the nearly 1.5 million California college and university students who applied for financial aid in 2018, over 202,000 were student parents, representing 13.4 percent. Moreover, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that student parents are almost twice as likely to leave college without a degree after six years. Among students of color, a higher proportion are parenting while in college: 33 percent of Black students, 30 percent of Native American students, and 21 percent of Latinx students have children. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research also found that student parents face greater economic barriers than students without children: over two-thirds of student parents live in or near poverty, and student parents have higher levels of unmet financial need and higher median student debt.

To support student parents in reaching their educational goals, AB 2881 grants priority registration to a student parent who has children under 18 years of age who will receive more than half of their support from that student, establishes a student parent webpage for every campus highlighting available services and resources, and provides greater awareness to the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC), and the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC program). Parental education level has been linked to the academic and economic success of their children. As a result, supporting student parents will have a ripple effect by also uplifting their children.

AB 2881 passed out of the Legislature with unanimous support, and is co-sponsored by the Michelson Center for Public Policy, the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, and Young Invincibles.