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California Considers Guaranteed Income For Homeless Students So ‘Sticker Shock’ Doesn’t Keep Them From College

During the commencement ceremony at Belmont High School, an L.A. Unified School District campus near downtown, a graduating senior wears green robes and a mortarboard decorated with the words: "I wanted to give up but then I remembered who I was." She's standing on a football field next to other graduating students who are assembled at socially-distanced folding chairs.
FILE - During the commencement ceremony at Belmont High School in Spring 2021, an L.A. Unified School District campus near downtown, a graduating senior wears a mortarboard decorated with the words: "I wanted to give up but then I remembered who I was."
(Kyle Stokes
/
LAist)
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California lawmakers are considering creating a program to guarantee a basic income for students who’ve experienced homelessness — at least for the summer after they leave high school.

Senate Bill 1341, which cleared its first legislative hurdle last week, would entitle high school seniors who fit the definition of homelessness to at least four monthly cash payments between April 2023 and August 2023.

Much like other basic income programs, the payments that SB 1341 contemplates would come with no strings attached. Students wouldn’t need to enroll in college or career training opportunities to qualify. (The only prerequisite: students must fill out an application for financial aid, which California already requires most students to complete anyway.)

The bill’s author, state Sen. Dave Cortese, D-Santa Clara County, says his hope is that the payments ensure very low-income students don’t back out from college or career training opportunities over the summer.

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“These students often become sticker-shocked,” Cortese told the Senate Education committee last week, “when they learn of the fees associated with attending college and that must be paid before their financial aid kicks in, such as their summer orientation fee, housing deposit, parking pass, and so on.”

On April 6, the education committee voted 5-1 to advance SB 1341 to another Senate committee.

The bill doesn’t currently specify an amount for the proposed monthly payments, though Cortese and advocates have floated the figure of $1,000. The bill also doesn’t say which state agency would administer the program.

What questions do you have about K-12 education in Southern California?
Kyle Stokes reports on the public education system — and the societal forces, parental choices and political decisions that determine which students get access to a “good” school (and how we define a “good school”).