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September 29, 2016

Middle Class Scholarship Act Gives Students $1 Billion as College Costs Continue to Rise

The cost of college is increasing as the money people have to spend on school decreases. With education often being target number one in budget cuts, the costs of attending college naturally ends up going up. Not surprisingly, Americans are not happy with the current situation and want things to change back to how they were when going to school was not such a huge financial burden.

California is trying to do something about the problem. The state is working on enacting the Middle Class Scholarship Act. Formally, the act is known as Assembly Bill 1501 and if it is enacted, an approximate one billion dollars will be given via scholarships to University of California, California State University, and California Community College students.

The California State Assembly has voted to pass the bill. On May 30th, by a vote of 55-17, the bill was approved. It will be enacted if Assembly Bill 1500 is voted in during the next tax cycle this year. Assembly Bill 1500 would close the corporate tax loophole freeing up the money and Assembly Bill 1501 would put the money towards the scholarships. Both would need to pass by a two-thirds vote. Essentially the bills are codependent and for one to go into effect, the other one must as well.

According to those behind the bill, the money would come from sales tax. Experts have gauged that by closing the corporate tax loophole, it creates around one billion dollars that have been generated already. If the economy were to get better, the money created could go up as well.

More money for the students who need it

Unlike a stimulus package or creating new money, the money for this act has already been generated via taxes. The only difference now is that it would be redirected from corporations to middle class students in the California education system.

The middle class is defined as those students who come from families of an income between $70,000 and $150,000. Officials report that if the bill is passed, 150,000 California State University students would get an average scholarship of $4,000 yearly while about 42,000 University of California students would receive about $8,169 per year towards their tuition and fees. Community colleges would benefit from about $150 million sent their way to help lower costs to students.

For those questioning the income range, take this example. If a couple has 2 children currently enrolled in a top school in the UC system and living on campus, the cost for the parents is nearly $60,000 a year. Even those making as much as $150,000 a year, that is over a third of their income spent not including their other bills and taxes.

Students press for the passing of the bills

If the State Assembly’s vote in May is any indication, both bills are likely to pass. However, students are making their voices heard as well. To make sure that the government and corporate America know what the students of California want, petitions are being signed and students are telling those in charge what must be done. One popular petition so far is the Middle Class Scholarship petition.

The costs of higher education are continually rising and Americans cannot let the trend go on any longer. Protests have been going on throughout the various colleges in California trying to prevent the rising costs of education. The Occupy Berkeley movement last year helped at least delay the plan to increase tuition by 81% over about half of a decade. The cost of college in California’s public school system has already more than doubled in the last five years. In the community college system, some students are now paying far more for books than they did for their tuition and books combined just five years ago.

It is extremely difficult to reverse the trend, but it is possible to at least halt it. That is the point of the Middle Class Scholarship Act. It would bring in money that is already being generated and created by regular sales tax in the state of California and simply redirect it to the education department to add to the few scholarships and grants for college available to students. Should more money continue to be given to corporations so top executives can give themselves more pay increases, or should more students be able to afford an education?

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