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California College Students Promised New Graduation Incentives

September 29, 2016

Students at several California community colleges as well as California State University (CSU) campuses have access to a new incentive to graduate in four years through new state “promise” programs.  Gov. Jerry Brown Jr. signed SB 412 and AB 1741 creating “promise” programs that act in conjunction with a new 2025 Graduation Initiative, aiming to boost the number of students graduating from those institutions in four years to 40 percent. Success in the programs is intended to help address future workforce needs of California and improve achievement gaps.

SB 412 supports eligible students in their pathways to a four-year degree through priority registration and academic advising. The California Promise program is open to students taking 30 units per year at select campuses and is designed to prioritize Pell-eligible and first-generation students, as well as those from underrepresented areas of the state.  At the same time, the California College Promise Innovation Grant program – established through AB 1741 – creates a $15 million grant program to incentivize community college districts to establish programs with the goals of increasing college preparation, college access, and college success. The governor also commended the CSU trustees for approving the 2025 Graduation Initiative, building on the earlier success of a similar program that saw CSU achieving its highest graduation rates in recent history. The CSU overall four-year graduation rate was 16 percent in 2011, compared to the national rate of 26 percent, according to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. The goal of the California Promise program is to increase that to 40 percent.

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