Bills to watch

This spring, the California Assembly passed a ‘debt-free college’ bill that would have enacted the biggest expansion of state financial aid in 20 years. But, like most bills in a volley of legislation aimed this year at lowering the cost of college in California, it failed. Its author has pledged to bring it back next year, though, as calls persist for action. Here’s a look at what was tried this year, and a sampling of efforts that could return or bear fruit next year.

  • AB 1314 (Assemblyman Jose Medina of Riverside): This would have remade the state’s financial aid system to focus on the full price of attendance—including housing, food and books—not just tuition. It failed in the Senate, but the notion of covering a student’s total estimated costs is expected to return in new legislation next year.
  • SB 291 (Sen. Connie Leyva of Chino): The other college affordability bill with a big price tag, SB 291 would have dramatically expanded financial aid to community college students, who disproportionately suffer from the way the current system pegs assistance to the price of tuition. Its author has also vowed to keep working toward financial aid expansion next year, so it, too, could be back.
  • AB 2 (Assemblyman Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles): This one did pass, and is expected to make a modest difference for one segment of low-income students. It would extend the state’s tuition-free community college plan to waive fees for a second year. As in the current California Promise program, the fee waiver would apply only to first-time, full-time students, who would save about $1,380.

For a full rundown on this year’s college affordability bills, including legislation on student housing, administrator salaries and more, check out our tracker.

Can you make it through college debt-free? Play our new interactive game and find out.