Middle Class Scholarship plan could help students pay for college tuition

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California state Assembly Speaker John Perez has proposed a new Middle Class Scholarship plan, which could help students at California state colleges pay for school by up to 66 percent.

In order to get the $1 billion needed for this proposal, Perez is trying to void a tax break given to corporations as part of a 2009 agreement to temporarily raise taxes, according to Perez’s statement in a press release.

John Vigna, press secretary for Perez’s office, said they are trying to stem the tide and plan for the next wave of prosperity.

“We are confident that we will get the bill passed,” Vigna said. “It’s a no-brainer using the tax loophole.”

According to Vigna, college tuition has doubled in the last 10 years, making middle-class parents choose economic trade-offs just to try and send their kids to college.

The Middle Class Scholarship plan covers students whose family income is under $150,000 and are ineligible for financial aid, according to Perez’ news release. About 150,000 CSU students and 42,000 UC students would qualify for the scholarship. CSU students will save about $4,000 a year, while UC students will save around $8,200 a year and community college students will see their costs reduced, as well.

Some Republicans think there are other things to concentrate on and are not in favor of the new proposal.

State Sen. Bob Huff, R-Chino Hills, issued a statement saying that Senate Republicans will continue to believe that working together in a bipartisan fashion to solve problems is the best approach. The state should first enact the governor’s pension reforms and balance the state’s budget, said the Senate Republican leader. At that point, the Legislature can better assess the need for changes in tax policy and higher education.

Representatitves from Huff’s office declined further comment.

George Runner, a member of the state Board of Equalization, wrote an editorial that said many out-of-state companies have investments in California and employ millions of Californians and imposing $1 billion in new taxes will tempt these companies to downsize their California presence.

“I don’t think this specific thing is something that would drive away companies,” said Jason Khan, senior at CSUN majoring in CTVA. “There are taxes for many things and this will just add to it.”

Some CSUN students said they are in favor of this new proposal, since money is harder to obtain these days.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Elizabeth Curtis, a CSUN junior studying psychology. “I think a lot of people are classified as that middle-class area, and would benefit greatly from it.”

Because it’s a revenue-generating bill, the state Legislature would need a two-thirds majority in both houses to pass the measure.

Greg Washington, president for the California State Student Association, says this scholarship has the opportunity to benefit a lot of students.

Washington also said students from middle-income backgrounds don’t necessarily have as many ways to obtain money as one might think, since a majority of aid helps lower-income students, and high-income students don’t have as much need.


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