The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
a) Lack of information about postsecondary educational opportunities and low achievement levels are primary barriers to a college education for students from schools that have low eligibility and college participation rates.
(b) The Student Opportunity and Access Program, initiated in 1978 to increase postsecondary educational opportunities, has been successful in meeting its goals to increase the availability of information, improve students' access to higher education by raising their achievement levels, and reduce the duplication of services by coordinating outreach efforts.
(c) The intersegmental consortium nature of the program has proven to be a highly effective mechanism in coordinating existing services and in fostering the cooperation of the various education segments involved.
(d) An essential core of state funding for the program is required to maintain its intersegmental character, which has generated better communication, understanding, and teamwork resulting in an impact enhanced by the collective effort, while minimizing duplication of services in a geographic area.
(e) The anticipated growth in the state's school age population indicates an increasing demand for services provided by the program to assist students to compete successfully for admission to postsecondary educational institutions.
(f) Salaries for college students of low-income backgrounds to provide informational and tutorial help for students from schools that have low eligibility and college participation rates is a cost-effective method of increasing access and of providing student financial aid.
(Amended by Stats. 1998, Ch. 626, Sec. 1.)