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We can use some good news, can’t we? This landed in my inbox a couple of days ago — and for California families with incomes under $100,000/year — that is, most of us — it is cause for celebration.
LOS ANGELES (July 2, 2013) —On the same day student loan interest rates have doubled due to Congress’s failure to act, California is leading the way on college affordability as Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. today signed the Middle Class Scholarship, landmark legislation by Speaker John A. Pérez that will dramatically cut college fees in California.
“While today’s deadline for Congress to pass legislation preventing federal student loan rates from doubling has passed, they still have the ability to take action so they don’t compound the already harmful situation where student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt in our country.” Pérez said. “They should follow California’s lead and take that action to help keep college affordable.”
In June, Speaker Pérez authored Assembly Joint Resolution 20, calling on Congress to prevent the student loan interest rates from doubling. It passed with overwhelming bipartisan support from the Assembly and state Senate.
The Middle Class Scholarship will cut tuition at UC and CSUs by 40 percent for California families making under $100,000 a year and 10 percent for families making under $150,000.
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 for families making under $100,000 a year.
The state will increase spending on the Middle Class Scholarship each year until it is fully implemented in 2017-18, and it will be paid for through General Fund revenues.
Working with students and families from around the state, Speaker Pérez authored legislation last year to close a loophole that only benefitted out-of-state corporations and fund the Middle Class Scholarship. The Assembly passed that legislation on a bipartisan basis, but the bill died in the State Senate.
This year, the Middle Class Scholarship, Assembly Bill 94, received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate and the Assembly.
“This is a great victory for higher education and middle class families in California, and a huge first step in keeping college affordable,” Speaker Pérez said. “For the past 10 years, the middle class has been increasingly squeezed out of our public universities because of skyrocketing tuition rates, forcing students to drop out of college or take on massive student debt that will negatively impact them for years, possibly decades. This legislation will ensure that California maintains a healthy middle class and an educated work force to keep our economy strong.”
It’s not enough — but it’s a great step away from neo-feudalism. (It would be nice if we could start running away from it.)