SACRAMENTO, Calif. - This week, the California Legislature showed that higher education affordability is a priority for the state by approving the Middle Class Scholarship, which will slash student fees at UC and CSU campuses by up to 40 percent for California families making under $100,000 a year and 10 percent for families making under $150,000. The legislation, AB 94, passed unanimously in the Senate and passed the Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support.
“This has been an important week for the Legislature, higher education and the future of California,” said Speaker John A. Pérez, who wrote the legislation. “For far too long, Californians have been squeezed out of a higher education by the skyrocketing tuition rates at the CSU and UC systems, forcing students to drop out of college or take on massive student debt that will negatively impact them for years, possibly decades, to come. That was putting our state on a path to failure. If California is to have a strong economy in the future, it is crucial that we have the foresight to invest in education now.”
California universities have seen historically high fee hikes over the past 10 years with tuition rates increasing by over 190 percent at UCs and by about 145 percent at CSUs. Students at UCs and CSUs currently pay an annual tuition of $12,192 and $5,472 respectively. This legislation will dramatically lower the college fees to $7,315 at UCs and $3,283 at CSUs beginning in the 2014-15 school year. The state will increase spending on the Middle Class Scholarship each year until it is fully implemented in 2017-18.
The budget will also make college more affordable by increasing funding for UC and CSU by $250 million, an increase that will grow to over $1 billion by 2016-17. The budget plan also includes additional funding for community colleges to improve programs and affordability.
The Middle Class Scholarship will be paid for through General Fund revenues from Proposition 39, which voters approved in 2012 to close a tax loophole that only benefitted out-of-state corporations. Working with students and families from around the state, Speaker Pérez authored legislation last year to close that loophole and fund the Middle Class Scholarship. The Assembly passed that legislation on a bipartisan basis, but the bill died in the State Senate.