Sacramento - In order to make college less expensive and more accessible, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) today unveiled a bold plan to close a tax loophole benefitting out-of-state corporations in order to cut college fees by two-thirds for middle class Californians.
"The pressures of the recession and massive fee increases have eroded, or even ended, the dream of higher education for too many California families," Pérez said. "Now it is time for our state to reinvest in our system of higher education. The California Middle Class Scholarship does that by closing a loophole for out-of-state corporations and slashing fees by two-thirds for thousands of California students."
Pérez launched the Middle Class Scholarship Proposal through a video posted to the new website, www.MiddleClassScholarship.com.
The website will also provide a way for students and their families to share their stories about their difficulties in paying for college.
In the video, Speaker Pérez notes that since the 2003-2004 academic year, CSU fees have increased 191%, UC fees have increased by 145% and community college fees have also increased significantly. While higher-income students usually have resources to cover fee increases, and lower-income students are eligible for different financial aid grants, middle-income students are often left feeling the brunt of fee increases.
The Middle Class Scholarship 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.
Speaker Pérez’s 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.
"California is on the mend," Pérez said. "And one of the best ways we can help that continue is enacting the Middle Class Scholarship and helping reclaim the promise of higher education as an economic engine for our state."
What are students saying about Speaker Pérez’s Middle Class Scholarship proposal?
"Speaker Pérez' proposal shows that student concerns are finally being heard. This proposal would bring much needed relief to middle class families that have been hit the hardest by back-to-back fee increases. This bill would be a huge step towards realizing the California Master Plan for Education and would greatly increase the accessibility and affordability of higher education for all Californians." - Claudia Magaña, President of the University of California Student Association & University of California, Santa Cruz student.
"I applaud the Speaker for introducing this piece of legislation. With the increase in student fees in the California Community Colleges over the past few years it is becoming more and more difficult for students in the middle class to be able to attend college. As a student whose family on paper is above the current financial aid income eligibility levels but is struggling to make ends meet, the Middle Class Scholarship is an exciting opportunity to decrease the cost of attending college and making it more affordable." - Kevin Feliciano, President of the Student Senate of the California Community Colleges & Ohlone College student.
"Speaker Pérez' Middle Class Scholarship shines a light in the dark as our students are fighting an up-hill battle against worsening economic and social conditions to gain an education. The re-focusing of legislation by Speaker Pérez to the equalization of opportunity is a monumental effort to building the pathways we need to educate our state; all the way from inspiring a sense of opportunity and possibility in our youth to providing those opportunities to students coming out of high school or the work force seeking advanced degrees. I could not think of a more effective avenue to boosting the long-term stability and infrastructure of California." - Rich Copenhagen, Student Trustee of the Peralta Community College District & College of Alameda student.
"For over ten years, California's middle class has struggled to keep up with student fee increases that result from repeated state budget reductions to the CSU. Speaker Pérez has offered a promising solution to this problem, and we look forward to working with him to understand its full impact and how it can benefit students." - Greg Washington, President of the California State Student Association & California State University, Fullerton student.
"UC students that receive financial aid, like myself, are in desperate need of further assistance. With the rising cost of tuition, fees, housing and books, this proposal will make college an attainable goal for thousands of students that would not have been able to achieve it otherwise," says Joelle Gamble, UCLA Undergraduate Student Association Vice President of External Affairs and UCLA student.
"We commend Speaker Pérez on this innovative bill that invests in the accessibility and equity in our community college system! Strategically, this bill gives local control to districts to address community-specific issues. It will encourage our districts to connect with their communities on a deeper level to address obstacles preventing students from pursuing and continuing a higher education." - Emily Kinner, President of the California Community College Association of Student Trustees & De Anza College student.
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