Middle Class Scholarship Act eases tuition fee burden

Lauren J. Mapp, Editor-in-Chief

Recovery from 2008’s economic recession continues to make progress, but rising tuition costs in California have made it hard to detect for college students in the state. To help alleviate the heavy cost of college for students and their families, Assembly Democrats have proposed the Middle Class Scholarship Act.

In an effort led by Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), the Middle Class Scholarship Act would cut college fees by up to two-thirds for students from families that make less than $150,000 a year but are not eligible for financial aid by other means.

Pérez is working to pass two pieces of legislation in order to make this happen. The first, AB 1500, would close the Single Sales Factor loophole that benefits out-of-state corporations by allowing the companies to choose the lower of two given tax rates. By approving this measure tax revenue would be increased by $1 billion, to be used to fund the Middle Class Scholarship Fund.

The Middle Class Scholarship Fund would be created by the second piece of legislation, AB 1501, which would allocate funds to families that make less than $150,000. Since students from most families that have a yearly income under $80,000 are generally covered by other grants or means of financial aid then this fund would be geared toward middle class families.

Any college student, parent or person planning to have children someday should favor these bills since they make higher education affordable and accessible to families who may have difficulty paying for college.

Students and their parents are obviously the primary benefiters from having to pay less in tuition as a direct result. The indirect effect would be that the state as a whole would benefit in having a highly educated population whose knowledge was being regenerated back into California’s businesses.

Since the 2003-2004 academic school year, community college fees have increased from $18 to $46 a unit, California State University fees have increased by 191 percent, University of California fees have increased by 145 percent, causing an increase in the difficulty for many families to afford higher education.

With each round of budget cuts and fee increases, more students are having to resort to taking smaller course loads or abstaining from taking classes altogether.

By closing this tax loophole, it will brings more tax revenue into the state without taxing California residents. In turn, it will also help to bring funding back to an emaciated higher education budget.

The Middle Class Scholarship Fund would give funding to those who actually need the assistance instead of cutting tuition costs across the board since it focuses on students who come from middle class income bracket families.

To help to ensure that the Middle Class Scholarship Act is passed, interested parties can sign a petition at middleclassscholarship.com or contact Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) or Assemblymember Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).