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California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Aug. 19 that a new public service program will take place and 45 of the state’s colleges and universities will take part in it. Seven of 10 campuses from the system of University of California, 16 of 23 from California State University and about two dozen private and community colleges. 

The $146 million cost was included in the state’s budget last year. Coming from my perspective as a writer and college student, I was pleased to read the benefits coming from this newly implemented program. 

The incentive of receiving up to $10K for 450 hours of public service can be enticing to students, especially for the many students who are in debt from the cost of higher education and other respective schools. I do support the new program that the state of California has introduced, but I will still go over the benefits and obstacles of the latter. 

I know communities and students attending colleges and universities are curious to know what campuses will participate in the program. 

Out of the University of California system, the following campuses are partaking in the program: UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine and UC Merced. The California State University schools involved include Chico State, CSU East Bay, Fresno State, CSU Monterey Bay, San Francisco State and Stanislaus State. 

The other colleges and schools in the first round include Butte College, College of the Siskiyous, Compton College and Sacramento City College. 

If the program were to be a success in its first round, then it can be expanded in the state and Newsom hopes for it to be replicated elsewhere. 

The program is hoping to admit “dreamers,” or students who’ve lived in the US without legal status since childhood and low-income students. What I like about the program is that it’ll accept students whose parents brought them into the United States illegally and are still eligible for in-state tuition under state laws AB 540 and SB 68. 

California Senate Bill 68 replaced the conditions listed in Assembly Bill 540 for these students to be eligible for in-state tuition instead of nonresident tuition. AB 540 was approved in October of 2001. SB 68 was approved in October of 2017.

Under California Senate Bill 68, it exempts students, other than nonimmigrant aliens, from nonresident tuition under certain conditions. 

If the student completed 3 years of attendance, or attained equivalent credits, at California high schools, adult schools, community colleges or a combination of the listed schools. The student can also be exempted if they completed 3 years of coursework in high school and 3 or more years of attendance in elementary or secondary school. 

However, CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro says that it’s important that it’s open to the dreamers who were brought to the United States illegally, but it isn’t open to all students who are living in the country illegally. 

While that is an issue I have with it, I also consider the lack of spare time that students have. 

Students are consumed by classes, homework, at-home responsibilities and work. My main concern is their willingness to participate in this program and if they consider it. 

If they are willing to include public service into their schedule, then it’s good that they are willing to take time to do good things for their community. If not, if it’s because of their responsibilities and heavy schedule, I wouldn’t be hard on them about it. Like I said, many students already have a lot on their plate. 

I think the monetary incentive itself of $10,000 for 450 hours of community service is like an unbalanced scale. I can’t tell if it’s a good or bad amount for the time people give to participate. 

On the bright side, it can seem like an incentive for students to drive for, along with the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping their community. They can even be appraised by neighbors for taking care of their hometown or nearby communities. 

If the students are paid $10,000 for 450 hours, that would mean about $22.22 for every hour of service. How that appeals to students can vary by  student and how they may perceive it. 

The main obstacles I see coming from this program, is the level of participation and the chances of it working out. I think students may contemplate whether they can spare enough time and participate in it and if it’s worth the monetary incentives. 

I am not against the new program that California has introduced to students. Outside of the obstacles it may face, I am in favor of it as much as I am for the new Highway 132 project going on in Modesto, California. 

The program anticipates 6,500 students will partake in the program when it launches in fall 2022. It is very soon to call, so we shall wait and see how well it will do in its first round. 

Gibran Beydoun is a writer for The Express. Follow him @Gibran580MSCM.

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