California State Assembly Speaker John Perez and Assemblymember Nancy Skinner met with UC, CSU and community college students at a roundtable at UC Berkeley Thursday to discuss the Middle Class Scholarship Act.
The act would slash fees by two-thirds for students with family incomes of less than $150,000 who do not already have their fees covered. At the roundtable, which was hosted by the ASUC in its senate chambers, the legislators encouraged middle class students to communicate with local representatives about struggles they have faced while financing their education. Around 50 students attended.
For the Middle Class Scholarship Act to pass, it needs a two-thirds vote in each house, which Perez and Skinner said highlights the importance of showing legislators from all over the state how the bill will positively affect students.
According to Skinner and Perez, the best way to do this is for California students to tell their own stories about the experiences they have had financing their education.
"This is not just about UC Berkeley, or UCLA or UC Irvine. This is about neighborhoods and communities up and down the state and about restoring California's educational greatness and bringing relief to you and all of your families," Skinner said at the roundtable. "We encourage you to help us get that two-thirds. It is not impossible but the work you have already done so far and the work you continue to do will help us get to that place."
Cooperative Movement senator and presidential candidate Elliot Goldstein recalled his own family struggles with the current financial aid models at the roundtable. Goldstein said his mother had received a raise after ten years of working but had to turn it down so that he would still be eligible for financial aid.
"It is just this arbitrary cut-off that her hard-earned raise would have denied my family, costing us thousands of dollars more to go to UC Berkeley, and we could not have afforded this," Goldstein said.
To prevent other families from having to make difficult decisions like these, Goldstein suggested the ASUC fund buses for the summer and recruit students from all of the California public university systems to knock on the doors of legislators and advocate for the Middle Class Scholarship Act.
Support for the act comes on the heels of a nearly decade-long strain on budget in California's higher education system, as UC fees have increased 145 percent since the 2003-04 school year. According to Perez, passage of the act would benefit the California public school system as a whole, benefiting middle class students enrolled at UC, CSU and community college campuses statewide.
The money to fund the scholarship would come from closing a loophole that allows out-of-state corporations to choose the tax rate they owe California. Because of this loophole, out-of-state corporations gain about a billion dollars in tax advantages over the in-state companies they are competing with, according to Perez.
Plan Would Slash College Fees by Two-Thirds
SACRAMENTO— In order to make college more affordable and accessible, today Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) met with UC, CSU and Community College students at UC Berkeley to discuss the Middle Class Scholarship Act (AB 1500 and 1501), a bold plan that would cut college fees by two-thirds for middle class Californians.
The plan is paid for by closing a tax loophole benefitting out-of-state corporations and would benefit students whose families make less than $150,000 per year.
“Middle Class families who have already been hit hard by the Recession are now facing college fees that have doubled over the past decade, putting the dream of acquiring a college education out of reach for many students,” said Speaker Pérez. “The Middle Class Scholarship Act will help make college accessible and affordable for all Californians, and we’re meeting with college students all over the state to help make it a reality.”
In recent years, CSU fees have increased 191%, UC fees have increased by 145%, and community college fees have also increased significantly.
“It’s time to stand up for California’s students and pass the Middle Class Scholarship Act,” said Assemblymember Skinner. “Students have made their voices heard, and our state can no longer place the burden of astronomical college fees on middle class families.”
The Middle Class Scholarship Act covers students whose family income is under $150,000 but who are not eligible 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. Community Colleges would receive $150 million to reduce costs for students.
The cost of this dramatic reduction in higher education fees will be paid for by closing the Single Sales Factor loophole, a tax break that only benefits big out-of-state corporations. Ending this giveaway to out-of-state corporations – which had bipartisan support in the Assembly last year – will bring in more than $1 billion for the Middle Class Scholarship.
The proposal is contained in two pieces of legislation: AB 1500, which closes the wasteful Single Sales Factor loophole and deposits the revenues into the Middle Class Scholarship Fund, and AB 1501, which creates the Middle Class Scholarship program providing the scholarships for CSU and UC students and appropriating funds to community colleges.
For more information on the proposal, go to www.MiddleClassScholarship.com.
CONTACT: John Vigna (916) 319-2408
Website of Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker
Website of Assemblymember Nancy Skinner: www.asmdc.org/skinner
The ASUC will host a roundtable discussion about the Middle Class Scholarship Act with Speaker of the Assembly John Perez, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, on Thursday in the ASUC Senate chambers in Eshleman Hall.
The two former UC Berkeley students coauthored the act, which is designed to close a tax loophole that currently benefits out-of-state corporations and utilize the funds to provide scholarship that will reduce tuition costs. The act was announced in February and has not yet reached the assembly floor.
If passed, the act would provide support for all three levels of higher education, including community colleges, the California State University and the University of California. It would provide assistance for students whose family income is less than $150,000 but do not already have their fees covered. UC students who qualify for the scholarship are expected to save up to about $8,170 per year.
"With the collapse of our economy, we've made our colleges and universities more expensive and less accessible," Perez said in a YouTube video. "The Middle Class Scholarship Act intends to turn that around."
The act could attract students who may otherwise chose a different university because of a better financial aid package, said current ASUC senator and presidential candidate Noah Ickowitz.
ASUC External Affairs Vice President Joey Freeman said the roundtable is one of many events ASUC hopes will generate support for efforts to restore funding to higher education like the Fund the UC campaign.
"This is kind of the big deal in higher education right now at least at the state level," Freeman said of the act. "We are trying to build some energy around that and see this pass. We can achieve so much good and find a way to pay for it."
It actually happened.
It's now more expensive for a middle-class family to send a child to one of our California state universities than it is to send their son or daughter to Harvard.
The skyrocketing increases in California State University and University of California tuition -- with CSU tuition nearly doubling in the past few years alone -- have put a quality education beyond reach for more and more middle-class families. Private schools like Harvard can afford to offer generous scholarships to middle-class families while our state colleges and universities are sending out more and more rejection notices and offering fewer and fewer scholarships, particularly to middle-class students.
And that's more than a challenge for the California families struggling to afford college. Our failure to educate our own children means we are undercutting the very foundation of our economic success while undermining the fundamental promise we have made to each other as Californians.
Meeting this challenge will take a fundamental shift back in our spending priorities. We are now spending nearly as much on prisons as we are on higher education -- a dramatic shift from 20 years ago when I started at UC Berkeley. And our state now ranks dead last in state spending per student enrolled in higher education.
One of the many steps we can take to fund higher education for every qualified student is to support the comprehensive Middle Class Scholarship Act now being proposed by Assembly Speaker John Pérez.
The legislation would close a glaring tax loophole by requiring corporations to calculate taxes based on their proportion of sales in California. The estimated $1 billion in revenue would be used to dramatically lower tuition for middle-class families, with UC costs falling from $12,192 to $4,023 and CSU tuition costs dropping from
$5,970 to $1,907. Community colleges would also receive $150 million yearly under the plan to help increase access and affordability.
Of course we need to support affordable colleges and universities for every student regardless of income. But the lowest income students still qualify for most of the financial aid and the highest income students have family support. It is the hard-pressed middle class that has been hit the hardest by skyrocketing tuition increases, a fact reflected in the declining percentage of UC and CSU students who come from middle-class families.
It wasn't that long ago when every student who studied hard and did well could fully expect a place at an affordable California college or university. That wasn't just good for the students and their families; it helped fuel a sustained economic boom in California that saw us lead the world in the knowledge economy.
I was one of those students -- a middle-class kid from an immigrant family that made my way to a UC Berkeley that was still affordable for the average Californian. Back in those days, I met another child of immigrants who was finding opportunity in a California where we could all still dream big dreams at great colleges and universities. Back then John Pérez already carried the authority of leadership -- and we knew he was headed off to do great things.
One of the greatest things he could accomplish in government is to make the California dream of affordable and accessible colleges and universities a reality again. We can help him by supporting the Middle Class Scholarship Act he is now advancing.
Please sign the petition today to support the Middle Class Scholarship Act and help make college affordable for California's families.
SACRAMENTO – California student organizations recently sent Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) letters of support for AB 1500 and AB 1501—the bills behind the Middle Class Scholarship Act. In the letters, the California State Student Association (CSSA), representing the 23 CSU campuses and over 420,000 students, the University of California Student Association (UCSA), representing 200,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in the UC system, and the Student Senate for Community Colleges (SSCCC), representing over 2.6 million students in the California community college system, encouraged the state to continue its commitment to higher education by supporting the Middle Class Scholarship Act.
“I am very pleased that the Middle Class Scholarship Act has received strong support from California’s students, individually and through their representatives of the CSSA, UCSA and SSCCC,” said Speaker Pérez. “We need to reinvest in opportunity for every Californian, and by reducing student fees by two-thirds at the CSU and UC, we can ensure they graduate with the least amount of debt and the most opportunities.”
“For years CSU students have experienced repeated tuition increases. Each time, it is our middle income students who are denied access to an affordable college experience and necessary financial aid,” said Greg Washington, California State Student Association President and CSU Fullerton student. “As student leaders, we appreciate the objective of Speaker Pérez’s Middle Class Scholarship Act, as it will benefit those students most ignored during the economic downturn. This legislation should be embraced by the Legislature and the Governor. It is a common sense solution to the college affordability problem.”
"I hear regularly from students who are struggling to keep up with the unprecedented fee increases that have denied countless students access to higher education. The Speaker's Middle Class Scholarship Act will bring much needed relief to students and their families and help to fulfill the promise of an affordable and accessible public higher education system,” said Claudia Magaña, University of California Student Association President and UC Santa Cruz student.
"Speaker Pérez has brought forward the Middle Class Scholarship Act at a time when the populace of California are finding themselves pushed out of higher education due to skyrocketing fees, denied jobs because of advanced education requirements which would have normally been offered to them in our public colleges and universities, and often in inescapable and seemingly endless debt from attempted or delayed degrees and certificates,” said Kevin Feliciano, Student Senate for California Community Colleges President and Ohlone College student. “Not only does the Middle Class Scholarship Act address the very immediate issue of affordability, but it also has the foresight to begin addressing California's economic shortfalls."
CONTACT: John Vigna (916) 319-2408
Website of Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker
By Amy Crawford
An effort is afoot to raise taxes to fund middle-class scholarships.
Chad Richards is the oldest of three children in a family that is comfortably middle-class. But with three college tuition bills to pay, they are no strangers to sacrifice.
“The cost of college is just insane,” said Richards, a San Francisco State senior majoring in technical writing, who will graduate with about $18,000 in student debt. “The only scholarships I can qualify for are $300 or $400. I acknowledge that I have it better than a large proportion of America, but that being said, education is by no means affordable.”
Ryan Blake, the son of a Menlo Park accountant, considers his family solidly middle-class. But as the price of tuition has risen, the San Francisco State junior majoring in accounting has had to find ways to save, such as taking half his classes at City College of San Francisco rather than pay full-time Cal State tuition.
“We’re balancing the budget by consigning loans onto students,” Blake said. “I can’t afford to go full time. I grind to do what I have to do to get through school.”
For students like Blake and Richards, who are considered too rich to qualify for most state and federal education grants but still struggle to pay tuition, hope may lie with legislation recently introduced by California Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles).
The Middle Class Scholarship Act would end a tax break for out-of-state companies that do business in California, with the resulting $1 billion in revenue going toward scholarships for public college students whose families earn less than $150,000 a year. About 42,000 University of California and 150,000 Cal State students would qualify, according to Pérez.
“California made a promise, that every single person who worked hard in high school would have the opportunity to go to and make the most of their potential at a UC, CSU or Community College,” Pérez said.
“But for thousands of students across California, the debt is too much to take on, and the bill is too high to pay.”
Pérez noted that as state support for education has been cut, tuition at Cal State campuses, including San Francisco, has nearly tripled since 2003. Tuition at University of California schools has soared by 145 percent.
If Pérez’s bill becomes law, it would cover two-thirds of fees at UC and Cal State campuses and provide $150 million to help community colleges stay affordable. But because the bill involves a tax increase, it requires a two-thirds majority of the Assembly and the Senate, a bar that has proved insurmountable in the past.
Richards said he was not overly optimistic, but he anticipated the bill would be enthusiastically embraced by college students.
“I think there’s a lot of anger right now,” he said.
(San Francisco) - The proposal to cut the cost of a higher education at California's CSU and UC schools by two-thirds – the Middle Class Scholarship Act (www.MiddleClassScholarship.com) authored by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez – was recently the focus of a report on KPIX TV. Watch their report in this Assembly Asset video. www.asmdc.org/speaker
Sacramento - California college students are struggling to deal with the rising cost of a higher education. That's why many are supporting the Middle Class Scholarship Act (www.MiddleClassScholarship.com), proposed by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez. It would cut the cost of attending a CSU or UC school by two-thirds. Sacramento television station KOVR focused on the Middle Class Scholarship proposal in a recent newscast. Watch their story in this Assembly Asset video. www.asmdc.org/speaker
Sacramento - Thousands of students converged in a park in Sacramento prior to a march to the State Capitol to rally for more funding for students attending California's CSU, UC and community colleges. Many of the students expressed their support for the Middle Class Scholarship Act (www.middleclassscholarship.com) proposed by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, which would close a tax loophole for out-of-state corporations in order to cut college fees by two-thirds. Among the many media outlets on hand for the march and rally were KXTV News 10. Here's their report in this Assembly Assets video. www.asmdc.org/speaker
Sacramento - Speaker John A. Pérez spoke to thousands of students and higher education supporters at the Fund Our Future rally at the State Capitol, commending students for their leadership and highlighting the Middle Class Scholarship Act (www.MiddleClassScholarship.com). The act, authored by Speaker Pérez, would cut state college fees by two-thirds and give community colleges $150 million to increase affordability by closing a billion-dollar tax loophole that benefits out-of-state companies. Speaker Pérez told the huge crowd, "California made a promise, that every single person who worked hard in high school would have the opportunity to go to and make the most of their potential at a UC, CSU or Community College. That promise is not being kept when community colleges across California have drastic cutbacks, layoffs and fee hikes that force students out of the system. And that promise is not being kept when student fees have risen more than 100 percent at the UC and CSU." Here's more from the Speaker addressing the rally in this Assembly Access video. www.asmdc.org/speaker
Page 4 of 6