California’s Middle-Class Scholarship program has been expanded by $227 million, making it a $859 million initiative and solidifying California‘s reputation as one of the most affordable states for college students pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
The program aims to provide financial aid to college students from higher-income families
It has faced criticism from advocacy groups who argue that more support should be given to lower-income college students who are ineligible for existing state aid. In its first year, the Middle-Class Scholarship faced challenges, with many college students experiencing delays in receiving their aid due to the program’s complex implementation. However, according to data from the California Student Aid Commission, approximately 302,000 college students received an average of $1,970 in additional funding for the 2022-23 academic year through the scholarship.
The scholarship’s formula takes into account the total cost of college, deducts other financial aid received, and assumes that college students will earn around $8,000 per year. College students from families with higher incomes receive more aid because they typically receive less financial support from other sources. On average, college students from families earning between $150,000 and $200,000 received about $2,800, while those from families earning less than $50,000 received around $1,400.
Lawmakers plan to further expand the scholarship to ensure that no college student receiving state aid has to borrow money to attend a public university. However, the exclusion of community college students from the scholarship has raised concerns, as they often face financial difficulties despite California’s relatively low community college tuition.
Advocates suggest prioritizing the expansion of the Cal Grant, which covers in-state tuition for UC and CSU college students and provides aid to community college students
California ranks highly in college expenses for college students from families earning less than $75,000, but affordability declines for those from higher-income families. While the Middle-Class Scholarship has helped middle-class families, critics argue that more should be done to support college students with fewer resources.
Despite the challenges, the Middle-Class Scholarship program is expected to benefit more college students in the future as it continues to grow. However, the timely disbursement of funds remains a concern, and efforts are being made to streamline the process and reduce confusion. Additionally, a new bill awaiting Governor Newsom‘s signature aims to exclude emergency expenses covered by campus aid from impacting college students’ overall financial aid.