On May 30, the Assembly passed the $1 billion Middle Class Scholarship with a vote of 55-17.
The Middle Class Scholarship, also known as Assembly Bill (AB) 1501, aims to provide approximately $1 billion in scholarships to California State Universities (CSU), University of California (UC) campuses and community colleges.
The Middle Class Scholarship would take effect, if Assembly Bill 1500 passes, by the next tax cycle according to University of California Student Association (UCSA) president Claudia Magaña.
“It’s based off the sales tax formula, one billion is what we have seen last year or so based on the performance from sales tax, but that’s just a projection at this point. It’s a projection based off of the revenues of state law when the loophole went into effect so we’re very confident that it will be a billion dollars and that if the economy improves in the out years, potentially more,” said spokesperson to California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, John Vigna.
The projected $1 billion for the Middle Class Scholarship would be derived from closing the corporate tax loophole.
“This isn’t just creating money out of nowhere. It’s using money that’s getting lost in the budget and the state,” Magaña said.
According to Vigna, it is more beneficial to close the corporate tax loophole instead of keeping it because the outcome would be an investment in California students’ higher education.
Students from middle-class families with an income between $70,000 and $150,000 will be eligible to receive the scholarship, according to former Davis College Democrats president Sam Mahood.
AB 1501 would save an estimated 150,000 CSU students over $4,000 annually and up to $8,169 for approximately 42,000 UC students. Community colleges would also benefit from Assembly Bill 1501 by receiving an estimated $150 million.
“For the folks at the very top of the spectrum — over the $150,000 mark — they will not be eligible because again they are doing well in a difficult era … The flip-side to that is students who come from low-income backgrounds are already to a very large extent subsidized mostly or completely through Cal Grants for their education. So it’s really for families in the middle, where their families make too much to qualify for any meaningful financial assistance but too little to simply write a check for their kids’ education,” Vigna said.
In order for the Middle Class Scholarship to be disbursed to help middle class students, AB 1500, which is what will provide the funding for AB 1501, must pass with two-thirds of the vote.
“I feel like this legislation is about helping people and too often you hear opponents say ‘Oh, we can’t, closing this tax loophole will hurt jobs.’ Well, the governor needs to stand up for people instead of corporations,” Mahood said.
The distinction between AB 1501 and 1500 is that AB 1501 is the scholarship that proposed to cut tuition while AB 1500 will fund it.
“If that bill doesn’t pass, the scholarship is not funded; both bills have requirements within the language of the bill that say they don’t take effect unless the other one does because they don’t want to create this and then not have the means to pay for it,” Vigna said.
Although AB 1500 will pass by senators’ votes, students can help make sure the bill goes into effect by voicing their concerns and opinions to assembly members and senators. Students and parents can ensure that their voices are heard and that senators comprehend the importance this scholarship will have in helping higher education be more affordable for middle-class students by contacting senators and assembly members. They can also upload their stories to the Middle Class Scholarship website and sign the petition.
“We need to do something to address the tuition increases for all of California. We’ve seen that too often the middle class is left out and that’s the real engine for California; that’s what made the state great … and if we don’t do something to change that our generation might not have the same prospects that our parents did,” Mahood said.
For more information about the Middle Class Scholarship please visit middleclassscholarship.com.
LILIANA NAVA OCHOA can be reached at email@example.com.