California Democrats call for boosting financial aid to students

March 13, 2017

Democratic California lawmakers unveiled a plan Monday that would create the nation’s most generous college aid system, covering living expenses as well as tuition. [LA Times]

The new program would cost an estimated $1.6 billion a year when fully implemented. California’s Student Aid Commission already administers $2.1 billion in annual state financial aid, the highest amount in the nation.

But, Assembly Democrats say the state must tackle spiraling student debt and make college more affordable. Currently, the average annual cost of college is about $21,000 at Cal State and $33,000 at University of California campuses. Living expenses account for 60 percent of the total cost of UC attendance.

The new plan, which is being spearheaded by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), would supplement the state’s existing aid programs with the aim of eradicating student loans for nearly 400,000 students in the Cal State and UC systems. It would also boost grants to community college students and create a tuition-free first year for those attending community college full time.

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,” McCarty said. “The cost of living, the books, the transportation — that’s [what] we really need to tackle.”

If California were to adopt McCarty’s plan, students would still have access to existing financial aid, including federal Pell Grants, state programs like Cal Grants, and university grants. Students would also continue to have access to Middle Class Scholarships if they are not eliminated as Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing.

Parents making more than $60,000 would be expected to make a contribution, and students would also be expected to chip in by holding part-time jobs year-round. The new scholarships would cover the remainder of the annual cost of college.

Assembly Democrats are proposing phasing in the program over five years, with an initial cost of $320 million and another $100 million for community college provisions. Most of the financial aid money would come from the state’s general fund.

Supporters of the program say its cost will decrease as the state minimum wage increases and students earn more at their jobs.

In February, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report estimating a $3.3 billion price tag for fully debt-free college. That report included covering living expenses for community college students, whereas the current proposal does not.

Last year, Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid pushed the idea of tuition-free college into the national spotlight. Also, a recent survey indicated college affordability is a big problem for nearly 60 percent of Californians.

However, it is unclear whether state Senate Democrats will back the plan their colleagues in the Assembly are pushing. Senate leader Kevin de Leon has proposed his own bill to boost aid to community colleges. Likewise, Brown has been reluctant to approve new spending in state budgets.


Massive student loans are responsible for the huge rise in university tuition. So now these brilliant politicians want to pay off those loans with taxpayer money so that costs can continue to rise, thereby creating higher tuition requiring more taxpayer bailout and so on and so on and so on. And here’s what we get out of it: Fluency in gender studies, social justice and environmental law.


“Assembly Democrats say the state must tackle spiraling student debt and make college more affordable.”

Yes, because whenever you want something more affordable, you involve the government! I mean, I cannot totally blame these “Assembly Democrats” and their incredible ignorance; after all, there is a populace that elected them (and continues to, whether through apathy, ignorance, or Pavlovian training). We do this to ourselves, as a society.

We really should stop.


There’s no doubt we could and should reign in some of the costs associated with higher education – but all of the research done over the years shows a positive return on investment for every dollar spent. People are more productive and they make better decisions.

And as far as the country goes as a whole, we literally drop $trillions on corporate welfare, banker bailouts, and wasteful contracts for defense contractors (hell, the pentagon can’t even account for 6.5 trillion, by the time everything is said and done the war in Iraq will have cost 6 to 7 trillion, and we’ve spent a trillion on just the f35, and it’ll supposedly be obsolete by the time it’s in the air). A few billion spent on higher education is a drop in the hat compared to what’s really being stolen.


Modern day politicians….Mess things up, raise the cost of education then get your vote by telling you they will fix it. They neglect to mention they were the one’s to screw it up in the first place. It’s the same with health care, they have tinkered it to death over the last 20 years or so causing who knows how much damage to the American people then they ask you for your vote so they can fix it.

So now they want to shell out tax dollars so students can afford to attend the mess they created. You can’t find a more evil self centered uncaring agenda than that.


They they they?

“You can’t find a more evil self centered uncaring agenda than that.”

Challenge accepted…

Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Steve King for starters.


You might have been confused by the word “agenda” – it does not mean names.


The confusion is on your part:

Rambunctious says: Modern day politicians………..You can’t find a more evil self centered uncaring agenda than that.

If guns do not kill people, then Agendas do not ruin lives and kill citizens, but politicians and white supremacists do.


I think I need to get drunk and then read Kettle’s post again.

Mitch C

This is obviously a joke. California faces a $1.5 billion budget shortfall and the fix the legislature comes up with is a way to give away another $1 billion. If you want to make college more affordable eliminate most of the administration; we don’t need a Vice President of culture and inclusion at each school. Fix the problem and stop concentrating on the symptom.


Californians get to pay for students to take Beyoncé courses at Cal Poly. Then Californians get to pay unemployment to these students after graduation? Our fiscal death spiral is almost complete. Thanks Kevin McCarty.


Since when can you get unemployment for graduating Poly, since never.

This is what happens when we cut education, so sad.


You’re right, one must first have to have a job in order to claim unemployment.


Wow 15 up-votes for fake information and people complain about Beyoncé? Lol


these are the same people who planned to secede from the Union of US States, I’ll wager.

You can take this ill-thought-out idea with you. If enacted, children will need to work to put the state’s “elite liberals” through higher education. the question persists – who pays for it ?

please leave as soon as you possibly can, liberals.


Sorry to burst your trumpian bubble, but California is more and more liberal with every passing day.

Nothing you can do to change that. I hear Arizona is nice this time of year.

Jorge Estrada

For reasons like this I do not support the Democratic leadership. I see this ridiculous offering to be a vote getter whether it pass or not, narcissistic politics at it’s worst.


Please democrats… ask yourself why students have debt. Tossing money at students won’t solve anything unless by chance that money is extracted from the bloated college admins. Grow a pair and fix the actual problem.