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Monday, March 13, 2017
California Proposes Most Generous College Aid Plan in Nation
With college costs and student loan debts mounting nationwide, legislators in California have crafted an economically ambitious plan. The complex proposal aims to reduce or eliminate the need for student loans for the more than 450,000 students attending Cal State and University of California institutions.
The average annual cost at one of the 23 Cal State campuses is $21,000; at the nine UC campuses, that cost is $33,000. This proposal promises to cover those costs, while continuing to supplement them with federal and state grant programs currently in place. Recipients would additionally be required to work part-time jobs year round, and families earning more than $60,000 annually would receive only partial subsidies.
With more than $2.1 billion in aid offered each year, California is already one of the most generous states in the country. Cost of living in California, however, tends to severely offset these benefits. Several of the UC campuses are located in some of the most expensive cities in the U.S. The state estimates that UC aid recipients currently spend some 60% of their aid packages on housing costs alone.
At the cheaper Cal State institutions, costs of living is also a serious issue. In June of 2016, a Los Angeles Times article reported that one in ten Cal State students was homeless.
Despite the tremendous need and California's robust budget, the proposal faces enormouse barriers. Governor Brown has been cautious in the management of the state budget, even in cash-heavy years. Politically, college affordability faces staunch opposition, particularly given the need for expenditures in other areas such as transportation.
If the proposal leaves the tarmac, however, it could set the stage for similar progressive reforms across the country. With a presidential administration committed to reducing federal student aid, these statewide economic shifts are the ones to watch.
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