New tuition bill has good ideas, needs better enforcement

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Illustration by Liz Coffee

Illustration by Liz Coffee

A proposed bill from the California State Senate seeks to cancel out tuition hikes, pay students to finish fast and add class sections. This, in exchange for the recent Middle Class Scholarship.

Students were in a mixed state of fury and fear last month when the University of California governing board voted for yearly tuition raises. Fiscal fortune tellers consulted the cards, and tuition hikes for California State Universities were sure to follow.

Luckily, the state Senate has an ace up its sleeve.

Its newly proposed bill, SB15, promises to eradicate tuition hikes, fund more academic advisors to coach students through school, open up more course sections so classes are readily available and reward students with checks for taking on course loads of 15 units and higher.

Everything comes at a cost, however, and in this case it’s middle-class students’ pocket books. On top of the $158 million fronted by the state and tuition hikes for out-of-state students,  this new bill will be funded by repurposing money from the Middle Class Scholarship, a scholarship that is less than a year old.

There’s a lot of controversy swirling around this scholarship siphon, and it makes sense.

Middle-class students have been crying foul for a while now, stating that an $80,000 yearly income doesn’t leave room for putting a kid through college.

Despite these valid and pressing concerns from families who are unduly expected to front college fees, this bill has to happen.

It’s the age old dilemma: sacrifice a few to save many.

The Middle Class Scholarship would be an immediate and tangible help for the students it covers, but Bill SB15 will be of far greater benefit to all California college students down the road if it’s effectively enforced.

That being said, there are still a few details about the bill that raise concerns.

$75 million will go toward expanding sections and academic advising programs in hopes that students will stay on track with their graduation plans .

None of this funding means a thing if students don’t take advantage of the advising that’s offered. As is the case with several majors at Chico State, academic advising should be mandatory for students. It will help them stay on track and ensure that these new funds are put into use.

Another concern is the Completion Incentive Grant, rewarding students for taking on 15 units or more per semester. The idea behind these incentives is golden. Pay students for doing the work to graduate on time.

However, if students are filling their schedules with electives, a Zumba class here or advanced frisbee there, they aren’t getting any closer to a degree.

The Completion Incentive Grant should only count for units that fulfill general education and major requirements, even if it means excluding internships and electives.

The state Senate’s new bill has good intentions and could ultimately be the sleight of hand that gets students degrees without limb-locking them in debt

However, the Senate still needs to fine tune the details if it really wants to see success written in students’ stars.

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