Within the past decade, students studying at California’s public colleges and universities have endured continuous fee hikes. The ever-expanding amount that our state’s best and brightest must pay has made higher education an enormous financial strain and, unfortunately for some students, a dream too distant to attain.
These are no small fee increases.
Currently, costs to attend the California State University (CSU) have risen 191 percent since the 2003-2004 school year. Where a family used to be able to pay $2,026 to send a student to a local CSU, they now must pay $5,970 every year. At the University of California, things are just as bad. A student is now expected to pay $12,192 per year, a jump of 145 percent from the $4,984 a student would have paid in 2003-2004.
What is most disturbing is that when these public institutions were first established, classes were free.
Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez has introduced AB 1500 and AB 1501, the Middle Class Scholarship Act that will reduce College fees by two-thirds, making college education more affordable for middle class families.
Students whose families earn an income of $150,000 or less and do not have any tuition fees already covered will qualify for this scholarship. Approximately 150,000 CSU students will receive a Middle Class Scholarship, saving families $4,000 per year. 42,000 UC students will save $8,169 per year. Further, the Middle Class Scholarship Act will also benefit CCC students, where an additional $150 million will allow the districts to have local discretion as to how best to alleviate costs.
The real beauty of this plan is that it corrects a situation that unjustly rewards businesses for keeping employees out-of-state.
As such, the Middle Class Scholarship Act will be funded by modifying the single sales factor corporate tax formula, which will pull back this benefit and level the playing field for California businesses making an effort to keep jobs in our state.
AB 1500 and AB 1501 will benefit middle class families and California businesses. It will ensure that future college graduates are not saddled with huge debt that prevents them from buying a home or otherwise contributing to the local economy.
The Middle Class Scholarship Act will go a long way toward helping the middle class and local businesses recover from the lingering effects of the Great Recession.
You can help support these bills by signing an online petition at the website: www.middleclassscholarshipact.com.
College can be affordable again. Please join me in making it happen.
Luis Alejo represents the 28th District in the California State Assembly, which consists of San Benito County, the Salinas Valley, North Monterey County, South Santa Clara County and the city of Watsonville.
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