California is joining a slew of states that have been taking student loans into their own hands. With no new national policy on education costs coming from the federal branch, states like Michigan, Maine, Maryland, and Virginia have been addressing the student loan problem stateside. California’s Democrats released a financial aid plan that covers tuition and living expenses that will eliminate student loans for 400,000 students enrolled in the University of California and California State systems.
According to the California Legislative Office, more than 60 percent of Cal State students and approximately half of University of California and community college students have their tuition fully covered by existing California student aid programs. But the cost of living in California is making it increasingly difficult for many students.
Therefore, the new plan focuses not only on tuition costs but all other costs associated with attending college. Lawmakers hope that the additional boost in aid will be enough to cover funding for textbooks, transportation, and other living expenses, which typically make up most of the attendance cost for UC schools.
Students would remain eligible for Cal Grants, Pell Grants, university grants, and Middle Class Scholarships. The program would depend on some contribution from students and their families who make over $60,000 per year, but would cover the remaining attendance costs of about $33,000 at University of California schools and about $22,000 at California State schools.
For full-time in-state students attending community college, their first year’s tuition would be subsidized. They would have access to the state’s “Success Grant” program to help low-income students cover living costs.
In a state survey in 2016, three-quarters of Californians cited college cost as a major barrier to higher education, while 82 percent cited needing additional support for more scholarships and grants — both of which are addressed by this proposal.
Lupita Cortez Alcalá, the executive director of the California Student Aid Commission, called it “by far the most comprehensive and wide-reaching proposal in the country.” Time will tell if the plan will succeed. Some fear the plan will leave behind those students who need it most.
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