Enrichment Education

California will pay college students $10K for completing volunteer work

Story at a glance

  • California will pay up to 6,500 college students $10,000 for completing volunteer work in critical issue areas.
  • The volunteer work must be in climate action, K-12 education or COVID-19 recovery.
  • The program aims to lower the amount of loans Californians need to take out in order to afford the cost of attending college.

California is launching a massive state-wide program that will award thousands of college students $10,000 towards their college costs if they complete community service work. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program during a press conference this week, saying it will provide up to 6,500 college students over two academic years with volunteer opportunities in areas like climate action, K-12 education and COVID-19 recovery. If they complete a year of service, they will get $10,000, lowering the amount of loans needed to finance their education. 

Newsom said 45 California colleges and universities have joined the initiative, including the University of California school system and California State University.  

According to Newsom’s office, nearly 4 million Californians owe $147 billion in student debt, with Black and Latino residents facing the highest rates of default and delinquency.  


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“The #CaliforniansForAll College Corps advances these priorities by connecting Californians of different backgrounds with enriching service opportunities throughout the state while making college more affordable for our state’s future leaders. We hope the Corps will be replicated across the nation,” said Newsom in a statement. 

The National Center for Education Statistics found that from the 2008-09 school year to 2018-19, prices for undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board at public institutions increased 28 percent, while private nonprofit institutions had a 19 percent increase.  

California is attempting to help those cost increases through #CaliforniansForAll College Corps, and state universities are pledging to join the effort. 

“Providing more pathways to a debt-free degree while empowering students to pursue service-oriented career paths is a reflection of our shared commitment to access, affordability, and public service,” said Michael V. Drake, University of California President  

Notably, the program will also allow undocumented “Dreamers” to qualify for the financial support, as long as they qualify for in-state tuition and can volunteer in the outlined critical issue areas. 

At the federal level, student loans have remained a contentious issue, as some lawmakers have urged President Biden to act on student loan forgiveness. Rep. Ayana Pressley (D) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) released a statement last month calling on the president to cancel $50,000 in federal student debt by executive action.  

Prior to that, Biden again extended the forbearance period on all federal student loans to May 2022, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to strain Americans across the country. 


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