New Program to Pay CA College Students $10K for Volunteer Service

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
According to the state, 4 million California students owe a total of $147 billion in student debt. A new state program aims to help new students reduce that debt through public service. Photo Credit: Pathdoc / Adobe Stock

The State of California is launching a new program that will pay college students $10,000 to volunteer doing public service work for a year.

Announced on Tuesday January 8th, some 6,500 students will be able to join the new Californians for All College Corps and will be required to put in 450 service hours, working on issues such as COVID-19 recovery, climate change and education.

Josh Fryday, chief service officer for the state, said it’s a way to help low-income students afford college, earn credits and gain valuable work experience.

“Like the G.I. bill,” he said, “if you are willing to serve your community and give back in meaningful way, we are going to help you pay for college.”

Across the state, 45 campuses will take part – including schools from the University of California and California State University systems, plus community colleges and some private institutions. On a Californians for All College Corps website, you can find a list of schools and details on how to apply.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the shared experience of giving back is intended to foster a new generation of civic-minded leaders.

“And if this thing works, we can go back to the Legislature and take it to a whole another level,” he said. “We can take it to the rest of the country, because nobody else is doing this. Nobody!”

Unlike AmeriCorps, this program will be open to the “Dreamers” – undocumented students who were brought to the United States as children. Students who receive Pell Grants also will be able to count the $10,000 grant toward their required personal contribution to their education expenses.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.