Middle Class Scholarship provides new college finance opportunities

Applications are now being accepted for a new financial assistance program, the California Middle Class Scholarship, that will be available in the fall for undergraduate students who have family incomes up to $150,000 to attend a California State University (CSU) or a University of California (UC).

A campaign to inform students and their families about the new funds is now under way by the Central Valley California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP), a federally-funded state program administered by the California Student Aid Commission and governed by a consortium of colleges and universities including Fresno State with 15 Cal-SOAP programs statewide.

Informational workshops, “Cash for College,” are scheduled throughout the state until the March 2 application deadline.

Signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in July, the new program begins in the 2014-15 academic year and provides scholarships of various amountsto attend any of the 23 CSU or 10 UC campuses, depending on eligibility factors.

It offers sliding-scale discounts of up to 40 percent for families who don’t qualify for Cal Grants, federal Pell grants or UC/CSU need-based grants, said Sandra Jones, director of Central Valley Cal-SOAP, based in the University Outreach Services Office at Fresno State.

“The program is being phased in over four years, and each academic year the maximum amount of the scholarship will increase until 2017-18, when the maximum scholarship award will be up to 40 percent of the mandatory systemwide fees and tuition,” she said.

The application filing period opened this month and students apply just as they would for federal aid or a Cal Grant, by completing the standard Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application available at www.fafsa.gov  or the California Dream Act Application at caldreamact.org by the deadline.  Students applying for a Cal Grant must also make sure their GPA is submitted to CSAC by March 2.

At the informational workshops, which are being hosted by CAL-SOAP, various schools and community organizations, students can get assistance with completing the FAFSA and Dream Act application.

Central California workshop dates and times can be found with the meeting locator at the project’s web site (http://www.calgrants.org/index.cfm?navId=16&).

To be considered for this program; students must be California residents attending a CSU or UC; be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or have AB 540 student status; meet certain income and other financial aid standards; maintain satisfactory academic progress; not be in default on a student loan; and must not be incarcerated.

For more information, contact Jones at 559.278.5312.

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Tom Uribes

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Public Affairs Specialist, University Communications
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