Families whose income aren’t enough to pay for an education out of pocket and are too much to receive college financial aid have been forced to take out sizable student loans to cover the costs. Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez presented his Middle Class Scholarship Act on Feb. 7, which would lower CSU and UC students’ costs by two thirds and save them thousands in debt.
According to the Middle Class Scholarship Act website, the plan would save 150,000 CSU students more than $4,000 each and 42,000 UC students up to $8,169 each every year. The website went on to state that “local districts will have discretion to allocate the funds to best meet their individual needs.”
Although many in the state are eager to see this bill pass, there is strong opposition among state legislators. The plan would cost the state over $1 billion and would be paid for by eliminating a tax break to out-of-state corporations that was a budget concession to Republicans in 2009. The bill needs a two-thirds majority to pass and in its current form doesn’t have the necessary bipartisan support.
“Someone should remind the Speaker that it was Democrats that enacted a partisan, majority-vote budget that cut $1.5 billion from UC and CSU–without a single Republican vote,” said Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff in an online response to the bill.
At Skyline, students have felt firsthand the effects of recent cuts to funding with the newly instated payment policies and fee increases. Despite all this, many at Skyline have stayed optimistic.
“During these hard economic times, (college students) have suffered at the hands of unfair budget cuts,” Skyline student Jennifer Brown said. “It’s time for wealthy corporations to pay their fair share in taxes so we can get a degree without it putting us in debt for the rest of our lives. I’m happy that there are still people in Sacramento who will stand up in defense of our futures.”
The Middle Class Scholarship Act would raise the academic prospects of many young scholars coming from middle-income families. If Speaker Pérez finds the bipartisan support necessary to pass his legislation, it would be a huge victory for California college students who have become accustomed to diminishing funds and rising fees. A brighter, greener future may be just around the corner for patrons of California’s higher education.