On Tuesday, Dec. 7 Community College Chancellor Eloy Oakley took to Zoom to host an online media teleconference to shed light on upcoming legislation concerning two-year educational institutions across the country.
Upon opening the conference, Oakley began by discussing his involvement in the Build Back Better Agenda after working with the Biden Administration for the months following July 2020. According to The White House’s official website, in October 2021, the presidential administration announced their framework to “rebuild the backbone of the country.” This piece of legislation aims to provide aid to middle class workers and students, grow the economy and even curb climate change.While the bill targets several problems, “A big part of that was for higher education,” Oakley stated. In fiscal terms, Biden initially allocated about $45.5 billion of a $3.5 trillion bill to educational systems, specifically for community colleges and similar institutions.
After the bill was sent to the Senate, it was cut back to $1.75 trillion dollars, which in turn will decrease the amount of funds colleges may receive if passed. Oakley also informed his viewers that as a result of the budget cut, America’s College Promise Proposal which would’ve given students two free years of community college, was eliminated. Despite being unable to pass this proposal, Oakley said that “It is not out of the administration’s plan for the future.”
While presenting a plethora of proposals in the Build Back Better Reform, Oakley reported that Pell Grants may be increased and opened to DACA recipients or undocumented students with defferred action for childhood arrival. As the bill is deliberated among the Senate, administration continues to push for grants to be opened to students with DACA statuses. He also mentioned that over the last six months, efforts to change the Cal Grant system have worked. Now there are no longer age restrictions for students applying for Cal Grant Entitlement Awards and students have until Sept. 2, rather than March, to submit their California dream application.
With current bills in place such as AB 705, which prohibits the delaying of many first generation and low-income students’ education and more accessibility to college grants, Oakley hopes that more students will be able to easily succeed.
As Oakley closes out his presentation, he briefly brings up an ongoing problem that the pandemic has brought on — a significant decrease in enrollment. He encourages students to spread the word and to reach out to students to re-enroll in college courses. With potential changes and more financial aid, the future for many is bright and success isn’t out of reach.
Sophia Sipe is a writer for The Express. Follow her @SophiaSipe