a group of adult learners in a classroom
Story Student Success

New California Bill to Modernize Continuing Education Revenue Structure

Alisia Ruble

Assembly Bill 2395 aims to provide campuses with flexibility to use continuing education funds to expand academic programs and workforce preparation strategies.

a group of adult learners in a classroom

​​A new bill would help free up existing CSU funds and enable the university to develop and expand innovative academic programs that improve student access and workforce preparation.

Assembly Bill 2395 (AB 2395), authored by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and supported by the California State University, aims to provide CSU campuses with increased fiscal flexibility to use revenue earned from Professional and Continuing Education (PaCE) programs for broader campus and academic uses. The bill passed out of the standing committee with a 9-1 vote April 9.

The CSU seeks greater flexibility as a way to respond to a tight budget forecast for California.​ AB 2395 does not ask for additional funds from the state and it is supported by California Competes and the Southern California College Attainment Network.

PaCE, also​ called extended education, caters to working adults and extends resources beyond the traditional university setting to accommodate the educational and professional development needs of today's workforce in a variety of program formats and settings, including online.

The California State Legislature established the Continuing Education Reserve Fund in 1971 to help adult learners meet workforce needs not met by traditional state-supported offerings. Over the years, the self-support programs funded by revenues deposited in the fund have expanded to include degree and non-degree programs, certificates, credentials and other innovative workforce-related professional development opportunities.

The CSU's student body is changing, and while the university continues to expand access to traditional students, campuses are seeing an increasing demand among adult learners—a population of 6.6 million Californians. In 2021, over 17,000 students used PaCE programs to receive training for jobs, advance in their careers or obtain new employment.  

“Unlike the University of California system, revenues deposited in the CSU's Continuing Education Revenue Fund are constrained by dated requirements to narrow purposes," Quirk-Silva said in a testimony to the California State Assembly Higher Education Committee. “My bill would provide increased fiscal flexibility for the CSU to use continuing education reserve funds more effectively so it can better serve students and deliver on its educational and institutional mission."

AB 2395 would modify Education Code 89704 to allow campus continuing education revenues to be deposited in either the original continuing education fund or the campus operating fund. This would enable continuing education revenues to be merged with other campus funds to support broader academic offerings and student services.

For example, current restrictions on continuing education funds prevent academic departments from collaborating with continuing education staff to maximize resources and develop workforce preparation strategies. This limits the ability to expand access and enroll returning or non-traditional students, provide additional student-centered career advising and improve campus technology infrastructure that is needed to support online education efforts.

Examples of academic and workforce related projects under discussion at several CSU campuses that can be achieved with this proposal include:

  • Upgraded technology infrastructure to support online education.
  • Increased academic and career advising.
  • Investment in innovative curricular design for new programming.
  • Funding for internship and career placement programs.
  • Regional partnerships with local employers to meet emerging workforce needs.
  • Programs to re-engage former students and adult learners so they can complete their goals.​

In her testimony to the Higher Education Committee alongside Quirk-Silva, Cal State Long Beach President Jane Conoley provided examples of how AB 2395 could help CSULB grow its impact in the region by strengthening local partnerships and workforce pipelines.

A global logistics and supply chain industry partnership between CSULB, Long Beach City College, Long Beach Unified School District and the Port of Long Beach, among others, has created a talent pipeline that opens access to careers in logistics. The partnership provides early career exploration for Long Beach-area high school students, and often they matriculate to Long Beach City College and eventually transfer to CSULB.

“Many of these students enter the local workforce and ensure we retain talent in our region and serve the needs of an industry undergoing continuous change via automation and the sustainability goals of the state," Conoley said. “The flexibility of fund use will make it easier for us to expand talent pipelines like this, include more of our faculty in the program's growth and continuous improvement, and ensure that positive outcomes increase the ability of CSULB to respond rapidly to the needs of our community and industry partners."

Conoley, who also serves as chair of the CSU Commission on PaCE​, added that increased flexibility in how continuing education funds are spent would enable CSULB to open more funding access for faculty to design new relevant in-demand programs and adapt them to the ever-changing nature of work and the job market.

CSULB also has plans to integrate currently duplicated student services including strategic enrollment management planning, outreach, recruitment and admissions services, academic and career advising, and students' basic needs.

The CSU anticipates an increase in the number of non-traditional students seeking alternative routes to education. Rapid socioeconomic and political changes resulting from technological shifts in everyday lives, spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, has opened new opportunities and the likelihood of major disruptions across multiple professions and jobs.

“These changes will cause many Californians to seek new skills, obtain a new certificate or credential so they can remain in or reenter the workforce. For the CSU to be more successful in educating Californians, we must analyze our own processes to be sure we are as efficient as possible," says Mandara Savage, Assistant Vice Chancellor for PaCE. “By leveraging PaCE strength, the CSU can continue to serve as a pillar of educational excellence and workforce readiness."​​