A handful of universities in California are embarking on an experiment aimed at helping students pay for college in exchange for their service to local communities.
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The Civic Action Fellowship on Monday announced it would give 250 undergraduate and graduate students as much as $10,000 toward their college costs in exchange for their work with a local nonprofit or government office over the course of one semester.
“Governor [Gavin] Newsom has laid out a bold vision to unite Californians around service and provide opportunities for every Californian to help tackle our greatest challenges,” said California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday. “We hope this new partnership with universities will become a model for calling on young people to serve, while helping them pay for college.”
The specific challenge students will be tasked with addressing will be coordinated with their curriculum and could include things like reducing homelessness.
The participating institutions are California Lutheran University, Dominican University of California, University of the Pacific, California State University's campuses at Los Angeles and Stanislaus and San José State University and the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Merced.
About $677,000 in scholarship funds will be distributed across the schools, in addition to $3.2 million in administrative costs – which will be a mixture of federal and state funds. Private scholarship money raised by the universities will also be used to fund grants for students.
Addressing the rising cost of college tuition has made its way to the forefront of the national discourse as outstanding student loan debt reaches $1.6 trillion. Multiple Democratic Party presidential hopefuls have proposed forgiving student loan debt for some – or all – of the nation’s borrowers.