Note: The proposal below seems to be timed to precede the Regents meetings that start today. From the LA Times:
California Democrats unveil a sweeping financial aid plan to help students avoid debt
Seizing on growing concerns over college affordability, California lawmakers proposed what would be the most generous college aid plan in the nation Monday, covering not just tuition but also living expenses that have led to spiraling student debt.
The plan would supplement California’s existing aid programs with the aim of eradicating the need for student loans for nearly 400,000 students in the Cal State and University of California systems. It also would boost grants to community college students and give those attending them full time a tuition-free first year.
“Lower-income students … are able to many times, through our great programs in California, get help to pay for tuition. But they’re still graduating with a tremendous amount of debt,” said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), who is spearheading the plan. “The cost of living, the books, the transportation — that’s [what] we really need to tackle.”
At a Capitol news conference Monday morning, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) said that with the introduction of the proposal, “California is taking the boldest step in the nation for making college debt-free.”
The plan’s high price tag means success is hardly guaranteed. But it comes at a time when college costs are facing increased scrutiny. Nearly 60% of Californians in a recent survey said affordability was a big problem for the state’s higher education system. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid last year catapulted his call for tuition-free college into the national spotlight.
Under the new plan, students still would have access to existing financial aid, including federal Pell Grants, state programs such as Cal Grants, university grants and Middle Class Scholarships (if they are not eliminated as Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed). Parents making more than $60,000 would be expected to make a contribution, and students also would be expected to chip in by holding part-time jobs year-round. The new scholarship would cover the rest of the average annual cost of college, which is around $21,000 at Cal State and $33,000 at UC...
H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the state Department of Finance, noted Brown’s administration has worked to clamp down on college costs by keeping tuition and fees flat for the last five years “while continuing to work with both systems to make improvements such as time to graduation that have a direct effect on cost to students as well as their parents.” The Assembly proposal “is certainly a noble goal, but one that clearly has to be paid for,” Palmer said...