Last Monday, Democrats in the California State Assembly proposed a plan to make college tuition accessible for more students.
By Kayla Hewitt, Staff Writer
Democrats in California’s State Assembly proposed a radical new plan on March 13, to cover not only college tuition but living expenses for many students in Cal State and University of California schools as well as a year of free tuition for community college students.
The “Degrees not Debts” program would affect the almost 400,000 low and middle-income students in the UC and CS school systems. The plan would also help community college students in California by offering one year of free tuition. The proposal intends to address the rising living expenses and tuition costs of college students.
The plan aims to assist students whose families make under $150,000 a year. Students would be expected to work part-time jobs, and parents making over $60,000 would be expected to chip in, according to the LA Times. The scholarship would provide not only for tuition but also living expenses. According to the Sacramento Bee, costs average around $23,000 at CSU’s and more than $33,000 at UC’s living expenses included, and the plan attempts to supplement that without forcing students to amass more debt.
The proposal will not completely ignore the California Community College system. The Success Grant would be expanded, providing help for more lower-income students in community colleges. What’s most attractive to community college students, however, is the proposal that the first year of community college be made free for full-time, in-state students.
Assembly member Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) in a press release on Assembly member Phil Ting’s website said, “providing one year of free community college to all first-time, full-time students can expand access to financial aid, promote equity, increase enrollment, help improve academic performance, and boost college completion rates.”
The plan is not without its downsides, the biggest being the steep price tag. The proposal is expected to cost around $1.6 billion per year, and with Governor Jerry Brown predicting a budget deficit next year, this price poses a difficult hurdle. Also, some assembly members are concerned that the plan does not do enough for community college students, who are face growing living expenses. The assembly has not confirmed a date for voting on this proposal, instead stating that it will follow the usual budget protocol.