Tuition relief coming for California university students

June 13, 2013 7:53:41 PM PDT
Every middle-class family with college-aged student knows the cost of California universities has been skyrocketing -- and there's precious little financial help available for them.

But that could change soon as there may be some extra money in the budget to help those students pay their bills.

Tuition at the University of California has doubled since 2005; and at California State Universities since 2007.

Waivers are given to students who come from families earning less than $70,000 or $80,000; depending on the school system.

For thousands like Jeremy Anselmi, his parents make more than that but not enough to pay for college entirely.

"You're kind of in limbo because you need help and you want help, but there's nothing out there for you," he said.

With tax revenue looking brighter these days, California lawmakers are poised to approve a middle class scholarship plan for students attending UC and Cal State; reducing tuition on a sliding scale.

By 2017/2018 school year the plan will look like this:

Families making $80,000-$100,000 a year qualify for a 40 percent discount.
Families making up to $125,000 a year qualify for a 25 percent discount.
Families making up to $150,000 a year qualify for a 10 percent discount.

Assembly Speaker John Perez wants to help the middle class, which he says has been squeezed during the recession.

"We have an absolute crisis in college affordability. When you look across the country student loan debt now exceeds individual credit card debt," he said.

But opponents have some concerns. Cal Grants for poor students were cut 5 percent last year so they would rather see more money put back into that program.

The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities also points out the plan doesn't increase access to higher education. They say resources need to be focused on lower income families.

"We know that a student who has a financial aid package and can count on that for four years makes the difference. It gives them a level of insurance, assurance and that's important," said Kristen Soares of the AICCU.

But a tuition discount could mean Anselmi wouldn't have to work as many hours per semester while going to school.

"Getting a 25 percent discount from $3,700. I mean, that's a lot of money. That can go a long way," he said.


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