Smith’s bill to help students heads to Senate

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, District 38 speaks to the crowd after being sworn in at Oak Hills Elementary School in Valencia on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Legislation authored by Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, seeking to assist students on their quest to pay for college, unanimously passed an Assembly floor vote Monday, and now heads to Senate committees for review.

The college affordability bill, known as Assembly Bill 853, addresses one of the greatest financial burdens of paying for college — rent, according to a news release from Smith’s office.

The college savings plan — known as ScholarShare — is currently not authorized to directly pay for expenses such as rent, but AB 853 proposes to change this.

“Many prospective students view college as a pathway to a better life,” Smith said. “There is, however, a dichotomy between the importance of attending college and its expense. I’m proud my bill tackles college affordability so bright minds are not deterred from satiating their curiosities.”

If the bill were to pass the state Senate and be signed into law, California would join nine other states in authorizing room-and-board payments from a college savings plan account.

“It’s time California rose up to the task to address the burdensome price tag associated with the cost of college,” Smith said. “We must expand our definition of college affordability to more than just tuition. Students should live full lives inside and outside college classrooms and not have to worry about making ends meet to pay for rent.”

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