Increased Cal Grant awards, shorter waits for therapy, and affordable housing are just a few of the many changes UCSB students can potentially foresee in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s new 2019-20 budget proposal. The higher budget for universities is focused on investing in student resources that aid with a wide scope of health concerns students face both mental and physical, and to make universities financially attainable for low income people.
Newsom introduced the new budget proposal on Jan. 10. In a video posted by the Sacramento Bee, Newsom said, “this budget is primarily two things: education and health and human services. Historic amount of investment in our school system: $80.7 billion. It’s worth taking a look that in 2011-12 we were at 47.3 billion and now we’re at $80.7 billion.” With a higher budgetary proposal for education than in previous years, UCSB students may acquire easier access and availability to on campus resources.
The budget proposal gives increased funding for California public higher education at the community, state, and UC level. Starting in late 2019, the proposal would allocate $15 million towards campuses for food security, tuition costs, and housing affordability. In addition, it will expand mental health resources by funding $5.3 million towards hiring mental health professionals to work the mental health facilities on campus.
Furthermore, students who apply and qualify for Cal Grants may have a higher chance of receiving the grant because the budget proposal will increase state spends on Cal Grants by $200 million, according to EdSource.
Previously, some qualified students have found themselves unable to receive a Cal Grant due to budgetary restrictions that limit the number of students who can receive the grant. While there will be an expansion in the number of grant recipients there will still be limits to the number of qualified students who receive Cal Grant.
“There are still people who will not be able to afford college and therefore the system is still unequal,” said Carlos Guijjarro, a fourth-year art major, in reaction to the budget proposal. Students are showing concerns and doubt regarding the budget proposal and the potential for little to no change in college affordability.
A statement by the Cal State Student Association — students representing the Student Senate of the California Community Colleges (SSCCC), the University of California Student Association (UCSA), and Cal State Student Association (CSSA) — expressed concern that the budget proposal is still not enough to address particular issues that low-income students face.
The statement describes the financial aid system as “broken” and unable to meet a standard in which a student can live without stressing over money. This is because of high California housing costs and everyday living expenses incurred by college students. The CSSA, SSCCC, and UCSA student representatives appreciate the budget increase but do not believe it will effectively tackle systemic issues that low-income students face.
In support of the budget, the UC Board of Regents Chair George Kieffer and UC President Janet Napolitano issued a statement in support of Newsom’s new budget proposal. It states, “We are pleased the governor has affirmed his commitment to not only the university, but also the students and families across California who rely on adequate state investment in the outstanding education at UC.”
Keiffer and Napolitano also stated that “these funds help further the academic mission of the university, from student success to classroom upgrades, financial aid to timely graduations.”
When asked how the budget increase will impact issues of food security, Andrea Estrada, Director of News and Media Relations for UCSB, commented that “it’s too early to know specifically how that increase will impact food insecurity at UC Santa Barbara. The governor’s proposed budget is the first step in a long process. But we’re glad to see the issue of food insecurity getting the attention it deserves.”
Food insecurity is one of many issues that Newsom hopes to solve with the new budget proposal. The potential for food security for all UCSB students as well as accessible mental health resources, and financial relief, are all possible changes UCSB students may experience not too far ahead.