Picket fence won’t fund college education

by Emmilly Nguyen, Staff Columnist

Financial aid, once sacred and coveted, strictly for low-income households, has finally opened up to help the rest of California in an attempt to make higher education more affordable. In previous years, middle-class students were stuck when it came to paying for college.

Being too rich for financial aid and too poor to afford college has become a common disadvantage of middle-class college students attending any California State University.

Thankfully, the Middle Class Scholarship has come to the rescue — just in time for Congress to double student loan rates, but that is beside the point.

Most students need financial assistance for their education and an annual household income of $80,000-150,000 isn’t some sort of lifeline. But many still don’t think this scholarship is fair.

We’re talking about a lot of money. Why would these middle-class students even need help paying for college? Shouldn’t these funds go to students who actually need it?

$80,000 may seem like a lot of money, but let’s break that down. The United States Census shows the average income of a California family is $61,400 with about a three-person household. Granted, the median income is lower than the middle class bracket, they still have to pay for the same things.

This household comes with a mortgage, monthly car payments, cell phone bills, car insurance bills, utility bills and tuition for possibly multiple college educations simultaneously. Without any financial aid, CSU tuition is roughly $7,000 annually with an average of $7,200-10,800 in rent.  These costs still do not including food, gas and books.

Los Angeles Times affirms the new scholarship will take effect during the 2014-15 school year, having awarded 73,000 state scholarships to students as of Sept. 15. These scholarships on average are $1,112 for University of California students and $627 for CSU students.

The California Student Aid Commission allows students in households earning between $80,000-150,000 annually to qualify for this scholarship.

Other factors that affect eligibility include: United States residency, minimum of three-year attendance and graduation from a California high school, or a General Equivalency Diploma, and enrollment in a UC or CSU.

Once fully implemented over the course of four years, the MCS will cut the cost of attending  UCs and CSUs by 40 percent for Californians earning less than $100,000 annually and 10 percent for those making less than $150,000.

According to Gov. Jerry Brown, this scholarship is going to be funded by General Fund revenues, money given to the state by the federal government from business and property taxes, to be used for a variety of state activities.

All college students, whether 18 or 45 years old, could benefit from financial assistance. So it’s irrational to group students who come from a different social class as undeserving. There is enough money to go around for everybody. Whether you are form a low or high-income household, college is expensive.

I don’t know about the rest of the student body, but just because I’m considered middle class by some monetary cutoff doesn’t mean I want to drown in debt until I’m 65. Thank you, Gov. Brown, for making sure I don’t consume Cup Noodle for the rest of my adult life while scraping change from the bottom of my purse for shampoo.

The world would be a better place if we could all just get out of college being in a puddle of debt rather than an entire ocean’s worth.