The California State Legislature recently enacted the Middle Class Scholarship, making college more affordable for California’s middle class families.
The Middle Class Scholarship reduces student fees at the California State University and University of California by up to 40 percent for middle class families.
The Middle Class Scholarship benefits the families that have been particularly affected by the rapid fee increases during the Great Recession – families with incomes too high to qualify for existing financial aid programs, but still unable to afford the fees without relying heavily on student loans.
Returning California to an era of affordable, top notch higher education is essential to rebuilding our middle class and strengthening our economy.
Once fully implemented, a family with an annual income of $100,000 or less will save up to $19,507 ($4,877 per year) for each child who attends the UC, or up to $8,755 ($2,189 per year) for each child who attends the CSU. The savings will be less, but still meaningful to families with incomes up to $150,000.
The Middle Class Scholarship is beginning with the 2014-15 school year.
The Middle Class Scholarship is available to California residents who are undergraduate students at all California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) campuses.
CSU and UC students who fill out their standard financial aid form (usually the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA) are automatically awarded the Middle Class Scholarship if they meet all the requirements.
The Middle Class Scholarship reduces student fees on a scale between 10 and 40 percent, depending on family income. Specifically, students with family incomes:
Of $100,000 or less receive a 40 percent fee reduction;
Of $125,000 (the middle of the scale) receive a 25 percent fee reduction; and
Of $150,000 (the maximum qualifying amount) receive a 10 percent reduction.
The Middle Class Scholarship primarily benefits students who do not otherwise receive financial aid, such as Cal Grants, Pell Grants, and other existing UC and CSU grants. Typically, students with family incomes under about $75,000 already receive financial aid that covers most if not all of their student fees; therefore, these students will not also receive a Middle Class Scholarship.
The number of students in a family attending the CSU or UC at one time does NOT alter the scholarship award for each student.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much funding is provided for the Middle Class Scholarship?
The Middle Class Scholarship Act is being phased in over the next four years. Specifically, the phased-in funding for the Middle Class Scholarship is as follows:
14% of total fees awarded for 2014-15 school year;
20% of total fees awarded for 2015-16 school year;
30% of total fees awarded for 2016-17 school year; and
40% (full funding) of total fee awarded beginning in 2017-18.
How and when do students determine if their family is eligible for a scholarship?
Eligibility for the Middle Class Scholarship will be calculated when parents and students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. Reapplication each year will be required. Qualification for one year does automatically ensure the scholarship for subsequent years, regardless of whether or not financial circumstances have changed.
The FAFSA is available January 1 of each year. The FAFSA determines eligibility for a myriad of sources of state and federal student financial aid.
Non-resident students who qualify for the California Dream Act cannot file a FAFSA but may apply for the Middle Class Scholarship. Requirements for Dream Act eligibility include completion of three or more years at a California high school, earning a diploma or the equivalent, and legal immigration status.
What are the qualifications a student must meet besides income eligibility?
Maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0
Not have bachelor's or professional degree
Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
Selective Service Registration (males)
Not currently incarcerated
Not in default on student loan debt
How much student fee savings will a family receive?
The Middle Class Scholarship award will be based on family income. Once fully implemented, a family with an income of $100,000 or less will save a total of $19,507 ($4,877 per year) for each student who attends the UC, or a total of $8,755 ($2,189 per year) for each student who attends the CSU.
What if a student receives other forms of aid? Will the Middle Class Scholarship supplement other sources of financial aid?
Any federal, state or institutional aid (not including loans) a student receives will count toward the total 40% fee discount the Middle Class Scholarship can provide. This includes but is not limited to Federal Pell Grants, Cal Grants, athletic scholarships, etc.
For example, if a CSU/UC student already receives aid in any form that covers 30% of his or her fees, the Middle Class Scholarship can cover the remaining 10% to equal a 40% discount.
Will family size or the number of children in college affect my family’s eligibility for the Middle Class Scholarship?
No, family size or number of kids in college will not impact eligibility for the Middle Class Scholarship.
When will students be notified if they are eligible to receive a Middle Class Scholarship?
After students submit the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application, Middle Class Scholarship award notices for the upcoming school year will be made by late spring.
In 2013 nearly 7 out of 10 Cash for College Workshop attendees received state or federal financial aid.