California college activists rally together for financial aid reform

Student needs beyond tuition became a topic of discussion


Reanna Simmons - The State Hornet

Mia Kagianas, president of the Cal State Student Association and former Sac State student stands at the podium to introduce Assemblymember Jose Medina at the financial aid reform rally Wednesday. Kagianas is an advocate for financial aid and student welfare.

Reanna Simmons and Jonathan Nack

Students, administrators and legislators held a rally to reform college financial aid on the west steps of the State Capitol Wednesday afternoon.

The Student Senate of California Community Colleges, the University of California Student Association and the Cal State Student Association rallied together with legislators, administrations, research organizations and advocacy groups to call for financial aid reform for all college students to our state leaders.

Mia Kagianas, president of the Cal State Student Association and former Sacramento State Associated Students, Inc. president said she worked with other leaders from different student organizations.

“At the start of the fall semester, myself as well as the president of the University of California Student Association, and the president of Student State Senate of California Community Colleges came together,” said Kagianas.

Kagianas said when they came together they discussed what was really affecting students and realized it was financial aid.

The cost of tuition, housing, food, transportation, books and supplies are not met according to Jose Medina, an assemblyman from Riverside.

“We know from the students that Cal Grant does not cover all the costs,” Medina said. “Things that are really major parts of the cost of higher education.”

According to Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel from Encino and author of Assembly Bill 541 and 542, one in 20 California college students experiences homelessness.

Isabella-Marie Engel, student and secretary of sustainability at Sacramento City college said she heard about the rally through the senate meeting.

“It’s super important to advocate on behalf of all students for me because I am a student leader,” Engel said. “Financial aid is incredibly important and I am a receiver of the Cal Grant — without it I wouldn’t be able to go to school.”

Eloy Oakley, chancellor of the California community college system, sponsors Senate bill 291.

“Increasingly a college degree is a deciding factor in the ability to achieve social and economical mobility,” said Oakley.

Senate Bill 291 would establish the California Community College Student Financial Aid program to community college students. The program gives eligibility to students that need financial aid and attend an eligible California community college.

“Students have been heard loud and clear that the financial aid system that is in place is outdated, over-complex and really does not serve the needs of California students,” said Medina.

RELATED: ASI President Mia Kagianas on potential CSU tuition increase