California program lets college students give back to community, graduate with less debt

Phillip Palmer Image
Saturday, November 19, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

The College Corps program lets California college students give back to their community and tackle their tuition debt at the same time. Here's how it works.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- College students across the state can now be part of a paid service program called College Corps.

College Corpse is a statewide program providing work for underserved college students, helping them graduate with less debt while doing jobs that help the community.

"I like to refer to the College Corps program, we call it the California GI Bill because we're really saying to a new generation of Californians, 'if you're willing to serve your community, if you're willing to make a difference, then we're gonna help you pay for college,'" explains Josh Fryday, the head of California Volunteers.

The largest state-level investment in a college service program in California history, College Corps provides students like Cal State L.A. senior Jimena Torres up to $10,000 for service completed during the academic year.

Her work at the Cal State L.A. Food Pantry also provides real world experience for her sociology degree.

"Actually working there is helping me see how this resource is helping students," Torres said. "There's many students who don't have a meal to eat at the end of the day, and I find that really rewarding just seeing how these students use this resource on a weekly basis."

Corps Fellows can work with those facing food insecurity, but also other critical areas like climate change, or tutoring and mentoring low-income students.

It's also the first opportunity for Dream Act students to earn support for college in a state service program.

Program fellow and Cal State L.A. Senior Alexandra Corena says: "It creates a sense of community and you have around you students that are similar to you because I'm a Dreamer student, and it brings us together to do something that we're serving our community in different ways, but we're still doing something."

There are 3,200 students currently participating in the inaugural program across 45 colleges and universities selected as partners -- students who now have a chance to graduate without the crushing burden 4 million Californians face who owe $147 billion in student debt.

Fryday explains how important that is for a student's future.

"Graduating debt free is a game changer, so there's multiple benefits but we know that student debt is crippling our younger generation," he said. "We know the impact it's having on the economy and we just believe in California that we can help students graduate with less debt, while also having them earn it and make a difference in the community."