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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 11:45 am | Fair 55º


Williams Unveils College Scholarship Program for Middle-Class Families

The plan would cut costs by two-thirds for eligible students attending UC and CSU schools

Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, unveiled Wednesday new legislation to create a Middle Class Scholarship program aimed to make higher education more affordable for working families.

The proposal, which was introduced by Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, is designed to keep more money in the pockets of middle-income families with students attending the state’s public colleges and universities.

“Our state’s public universities used to be the envy across the country, largely because of the bargain for middle-class parents. Sadly that has not been the case of late,” Williams said. “There are things in place to assist low-income students, like Cal Grants and Pell Grants, but these Middle Class Scholarships are a step to restore the California Dream and our economic future.

“To protect the state’s economy for future generations requires more graduates in science, math, technology and engineering; and making college more affordable can increase completion rates and allow access for more students.”

Under the plan, all students at the CSU or UC with family incomes less than $150,000 that do not already have fees covered will receive a Middle Class Scholarship that cuts costs by two-thirds.

Since the 2003-04 school year, CSU fees have increased 191 percent, UC fees have increased 145 percent and community college student fees have also increased significantly. Many middle-income families turn to increased use of student loans to cover these fee hikes. This leads to years of chronic debt, or even worse, some students give up on the promise of higher education altogether. A high rate of student loan debt is the most damaging thing for the long-term health of our economy. At the same time, large out-of-state corporations continue to benefit from a tax loophole that takes $1 billion out of California every year.

Under the proposal:

» About 150,000 CSU families will save more than $4,000 per year.

» Nearly 42,000 UC families will see a savings of $8,169.

» Community colleges will receive $150 million to expand affordability efforts.

“I am a product of our state’s community college and UC systems and realize I represent a California Dream that is much less obtainable now than it was when I was pursuing my education and that wasn’t that long ago,” Williams said. “This investment in our economic future will be covered by closing a tax loophole that only benefits out-of-state corporations.”

This effort will require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, which means some Republican legislators will have to join Democrats in supporting the plan.

For more information, click here or call either district office, Santa Barbara at 805.564.1649 or Oxnard at 805.483.9808.

— James Joyce is a field representative of Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara.

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