Funding the middle class

Nobody likes to hear about the possibility of having to pay extra money to go to college. Similarly, no one also likes to line up and complain about getting relief. 

The Middle Class Scholarship program, created by the California State Legislature, provides financial assistance to UC and CSU undergraduates beginning this academic year. The scholarship was created to assist undergraduates who do not fall in the low-income family category, but still need financial assistance to pay for school and living expenses. 

Sonoma State University undergraduates with family incomes between $80,000 and $150,000 are eligible and will receive $45 to $384 per semester. The Financial Aid Office is expected to disperse funds to qualifying students for this semester in mid-October.

At one end of the spectrum, $45 is probably not enough to pay for a single small bill. It may, however, be used to just buy a week’s worth of groceries. In addition, at the other end of the spectrum, $384 is not a lot of money. For most students, $384 cannot pay for one month’s rent. Rent can cost anywhere from $500 to $1200 a month.

Although this program offers little monetary assistance to undergraduates and may not significantly alleviate the burden of school and living expenses, the financial assistance provided is appreciated and useful.

Most students do not have excess cash to pay for school and living expenses. As a result, they rely on loans, financial aid, scholarships, job income, credit and/or their parents for financial support.

The funds they receive from this program can help pay for food, school supplies, toiletries and other living expenses. This will temporarily reduce the stress associated with not having enough money.

College students already have to deal with enough problems throughout a given semester. Whether it’s a relationship dispute, studying for a critical exam or simply being on top of day-to-day schedule and routine, having one less thing to be concerned about has the potential to brighten up even the gloomiest day.

Further, the scholarship can reduce the financial hardships placed on parents, allowing them to reserve funds and pay their own expenses, or to allocate more funds to their other children’s college expenses. Without financial assistance, student debt can quickly accumulate and as a result diminish a parent’s savings or increase their debt. 

With word getting around that there won’t be any large fee increases within the next year or so, having some extra aid for a particular group of students could end up being the perfect morale boost to top things off. If that wasn’t enough, undergraduates who receive the Middle Class Scholarship can look forward to increased monetary aid in the future. 

According to the California Student Aid Commission, the amount of aid provided by the Middle Class Scholarship program will increase each year until the 2017-18 academic year. In four years, the maximum award is expected to cover 40 percent of tuition and fees at SSU.

For students who are finishing their academic goals this year, the benefit of the scholarship may not make the biggest impact. However, third-years and below can expect to see a more significant increase while they continue pursuing their undergraduate careers.