SACRAMENTO—The Assembly Higher Education Committee unanimously passed AB 1501 today, a bill authored by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) that will slash college fees by two-thirds for California’s middle class families. Students from across the state testified in support of the Middle Class Scholarship Act, speaking about their own financial hardships, the stress of paying off paralyzing student loans and their hopes for higher education in California.
“Today’s bipartisan approval of the Middle Class Scholarship Act by the Assembly Higher Education Committee is the first step towards restoring the promise of affordable and accessible higher education for California’s middle class families,” said Speaker Pérez. “The students who spoke in favor of the Middle Class Scholarship Act were a powerful reminder that we need to invest in opportunities for every person in our state, and one of the best ways to do that is to reduce student fees by two-thirds for middle class families.”
AB 1501 is one of two pieces of legislation that make up the Middle Class Scholarship Act, a plan to make college more affordable for middle class Californians, covering students whose family income is under $150,000 but over the amount allowed to qualify for financial aid. CSU students will save $4,000 per year or $16,000 over a four-year period, UC students will save about $8,200 per year or nearly $33,000 over a four-year period, and Community College students will see their costs reduced significantly as well. According to estimates, 150,000 CSU students and 42,000 UC students would be eligible for the scholarship. Community Colleges would also receive $150 million to reduce costs for students.
“I was very pleased to be able to testify in support of Speaker Pérez’s Middle Class Scholarship Act, which will be a major benefit to my fellow student,” said Jeremy Pilaar, a senior at UC Berkeley and member of the UC Student Association Board of Directors. “Even though I’ll be graduating this year and won’t be able to get the Middle Class Scholarship, I know thousands of students across the state will benefit enormously from this effort.”
Those comments were echoed by Aissa Canchola, a senior at CSU Fullerton, who said, “CSU students are graduating with so much debt, we have to find the first job that comes along instead of finding the job that will help us get started on our careers, and we need to lower fees so that graduating students have opportunities for the kinds of jobs we’ve worked and studied hard for.”
In recent years, CSU fees have increased 191%, UC fees have increased by 145%, and community college fees have also increased significantly. Student loan debt has also reached an astronomical high, with national student debt figures breaking the trillion dollar mark.
“As a community college student, I know so many of our students are worried about how they’ll be able to afford going to a four year university when they can barely afford to attend a community college right now, and the Middle Class Scholarship will help them out tremendously,” said Emily Kinner, a Student Trustee of De Anza College (Cupertino, CA). “This bill will dedicate $150 million dollars to provide relief to community colleges, and will help every community college student who wants to go to a UC or CSU be able to do so.”
The Middle Class Scholarship Act closes the elective single sales factor loophole, a tax break that only benefits big out-of-state corporations and costs the state nearly $1 billion in lost revenue every year.
For more information on the proposal, go to www.MiddleClassScholarship.com.
Website of Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker
CONTACT: John Vigna (916) 319-2408