Senate DemocratsSB15: A Plan for Higher Education in California

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How does the Senate Plan ensure access and affordability for students?
  • Eliminate the need for UC to increase tuition by 5% for all students.
  • Provide 10,500 more enrollment slots at CSU ($63 million). 
  • Make 7,500 more competitive Cal Grant awards available to students. 
  • Provide $50 million each to UC and CSU to increase support services (i.e., counseling) to help students finish their degrees. 
  1. How does the Senate Plan ensure completion for students? 
  • Establish the Completion Incentive Grant for CSU students who complete 30 units a year.  If a student completes 30 units a year, he or she will graduate in four years. 
  • Provide $25 million each to UC and CSU to increase course offering so students have the access they need
  1. How does the Completion Incentive Grant (CIG) work?
  • A student eligible for any state, federal, or institutional aid grant (including a community college transfer student) will receive the following:
    • $1,000 grant for completing 30 units by the end of year one.
    • $1,500 grant for completing 60 units by the end of year two. 
    • $2,000 grant for completing 90 units by the end of year three.
  • 30,000 students eligible for CIG in the first year.
  • This grant recognizes the “total cost of education.”  Students and parents paying for college are worried about living expenses, books, and transportation in addition to tuition. 
  • This grant will allow students to forgo working to take more units to finish in four years. 
  1. How is the Senate Plan proposing to transition the Middle Class Scholarship (MCS) program funding?  
  • All students who received MCS awards in the 2014-15 school year will continue to receive awards. 
  • No new students will be funded in the 2015-16 fiscal year or thereafter. 
  • Future MCS program funding will be repurposed to benefit all students by eliminating the tuition increase, increasing enrollment and course offerings, providing additional support services, and offering more targeted financial aid.    
  1. Why repurpose future Middle Class Scholarship program funding?  
  • Limited fiscal resources in the budget year and future years calls for the state to use existing funding more effectively and efficiently to benefit all students.  SB 15 does this by eliminating the UC tuition increase, adding more slots, and providing for additional course offerings/support services.  
    • Approximately 6% of UC students received a MCS award to date. 
    • Approximately 14% of CSU students received a MCS award to date.
  • Eligibility for an MCS award is based on annual income, NOT a family’s total wealth, including assets.

    EXAMPLE CASE: A student whose family has an income below $80,000 a year reflected on tax returns, but with substantial assets (e.g., over $200,000 in cash and hundreds of thousands in investment assets) received the maximum UC MCS Award of $1,700.

    • There is an asset test under the Cal Grant program and both UC and CSU’s Institutional Aid programs.  This asset evaluation is part of the determining a student’s “financial need.”  
    • Families with inherited monies, investment property (not primary residences), received an award under the MCS program. 
  1. Is academic accountability for students under the MCS Program similar to Cal Grant accountability?
  • Low-income students who receive a Cal Grant Award are required to achieve a 3.0 grade point average.  Under the MCS program, students are only required to demonstrate “satisfactory performance,” which has been interpreted as a 2.0 grade point average.  
  1. How does the Senate pay for its plan?  
  • A combination of three sources:
  • Increase UC non-resident tuition fees by 17% or approximately $4,000 annually.  (Makes tuition comparable to the lower-end scale of the University of Virginia). 
  • Transition Middle Class Scholarship Program funding for purposes outlined above.
  • $158 million GF investment in 2015-16, which declines to $66 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year.