Continuing the series of student perspectives on the Richmond Promise, the $35 million scholarship program from Chevron's Community Benefits Agreement with the City, here are perspectives from three students at Contra Costa College.
The Richmond Promise is a helping hand for the children of Richmond to grow up with more opportunities for a post-high school education, and looking at the distribution of this helping hand needs to be taken into consideration.
As the price of education is increasing, less expensive paths like that of community college may be chosen to help alleviate this burden. Yet this less expensive choice for school would seem to be seen as less of a financial burden for these students. However, the cost of living within this area hasn't properly been considered, just the price of the education itself. When seeking finical aid, students are informed that this is part of the cost of education. As the cost of the tuition is higher at a state or UC compared to a community college, the cost of living is the same, and the cost of living in the Bay Area is continually increasing at faster rates than other parts of the country. With this increased cost, just to have a place to sleep has such a sharp incline, the available additional financial aid is needed for all students, not just those at a four-year institution.
I feel that as a college student, we should have equal opportunity from resources that come from organizations such as the chevron funding. We all live around this polluted area and are affected by all of the pollution that is produced. We are students from community college that did not transfer to a four-year institution not because we did not want to, but because our resources did not allow us to do so.
I believe that as community college students, we also deserve equal opportunity so we can be ready to transfer without worrying about economic difficulties. We have more than 30 million dollars in funds for this effort, and I feel that we deserve the economic help that will allow us to accomplish our American dream of becoming something in life through our education.
My name is Dante Romero,and I am former Richmond High School student class, of 2011. The moment that I heard that Chevron gave $35 million dollars to support Richmond students in attending college, I felt relieved that someone would help us continue our education.
This sentiment faded after listening to Mayor Tom Butt, who is opposed to supporting community college students with the same amount of scholarship money as students attending a four-year college. I felt even more insulted that the city staff put together a report and have recommended that the CCC students receive $500 compared to the $4000 that a student will get if he/she goes to a four-year college. Mayor Tom Butt and the city staff claims that this is because CCC student pay less than students in the four-year college, so we should get less. The fact is that Community College Students and UC/CSU Students both get financial aid, and both have to pay for cost of living, transportation, food, books, and other expenses.
The $35 million dollars should be distributed equally to all students in Richmond, because it is money that was generously allocated by Chevron to support the higher education to all Richmond residents. The goal of Mayor Tom Butt, Councilmember Nat Bates, and the rest of the city staff is to give the least amount of money so they can use the rest for cover the city’s debts, these debts were acquired by them.
The average cost of a community college student per year is around $2500 - $3000 per year (around 15 units per semester), and can be more for some students like me, who take up to 21 units per semester. And with my $561.76 dollars per month salary, is impossible to pay for college and pay for my cost of living. If I had Mayor Tom Butt’s salary ($3,875 dollars per month), I would not ask for the support to continue my education.
In my opinion, it is fair to equally distribute the total of the $35 million dollars to all Richmond students.
Photo: Contra Costa College