‘Young Invincibles’ Fight for CA Young Adults’ Access to Higher Ed

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Advocates are calling for an expansion of the California Earned Income Tax Credit for young adults, so they can better afford living expenses while pursuing higher education. Photo Credit: Aleksandr / Adobestock

California’s young adults face significant barriers to accessing higher education, affordable housing, and health care – according to a nonprofit that is fighting to advance their interests. The group Young Invincibles has just released its 2023 policy agenda, and top of the list is improving consumer protections around student debt.

Sarah Bouabibsa, west advocacy manager for Young Invincibles, said they are working to convince colleges and universities to stop withholding degrees or transcripts over small debts owed to the school itself, for example.

“We’re looking for schools to stop withholding diplomas because students owe, let’s say, outstanding library fees. Because that is a direct barrier to students being able to build financial security through finding jobs to applying for graduate school once they graduate,” she said.

The policy agenda also calls on schools to build more affordable student housing, increase the number of mental health professionals on campus, and eliminate premiums on standard silver Covered California health insurance plans.

The group also wants California to fully fund its Cradle to Career Data System, an online hub currently in development. Bouabibsa said the site’s dashboard will give students the tools they need to succeed.

“This will help students plan out what colleges they want to go to,” she said. “It’ll help answer questions around financial aid as well as career opportunities they can pursue if they go toward a specific area of focus in their education. ”

All California community colleges are now required to have student “basic needs centers” that connect students with assistance programs for food, housing, and health care. The agenda calls for fully funding these centers and for the development of an assessment tool to identify trends in student needs.

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