Will California Offer Free College?

By Mentor Staff | Edited By Mentor Staff

Updated On November 2, 2021

Editorial Note: This content is based solely on the author's opinions and is not provided, approved, endorsed or reviewed by any financial institution or partner.

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If California Assembly Democrats have their way, California college students may benefit from the nation’s most ambitious plan to date for students to avoid student loan debt.

The Degrees Not Debt program, which California Democratic lawmakers proposed Monday, would assist nearly 400,000 University of California and California State University students pay for tuition and living expenses – with the ultimate goal to help students avoid student loan debt.

According to student loan debt statistics from Mentor, the average student loan debt per graduate in California is $22,191. Student loan debt per capita in California is $4,160 compared with the average student loan debt per capita in the U.S. of $4,920.

According to the California Assembly Democratic Caucus, the program would be implemented over five years and cost $1.6 billion.

“It’s by far the most comprehensive and wide-reaching proposal in the country,” Lupita Cortez Alcalá, executive director of the California Student Aid Commission, told the Los Angeles Times.

The plan also increases grants to community college students and would make the first year of community college tuition-free.

Students would still have access to Pell Grants, Middle-Class Scholarships, and other university scholarships. Students whose parents earn more than $60,000 per year would be expected to help pay for college, and students would be expected to hold a part-time job to help cover college costs.

The remaining tuition costs – about $33,000 at University of California schools and $22,000 at California State schools – would be covered by the program.

According to the California Legislative Office, more than 60% of Cal State students and approximately 50% of University of California and community college students have their tuition fully covered by existing California aid programs, which total about $2 billion.

The latest California proposal differs from other tuition-free college proposals in New York, San Francisco, Oregon and Tennessee by providing more assistance to cover living expenses for college students.

At University of California schools, for example, living expenses can account for about 60% of college costs. However, this proposal would not cover the cost of living expenses for community college students.

Democratic lawmakers face an uphill battle to gain the support of California Governor Jerry Brown, a fellow Democrat. Brown has been opposed to increased spending so the likelihood of including the proposal in the state budget, which is due this June, remains slim.

California legislators have proposed over 30 bills this year to make college for affordable for Californians. This latest proposal comes after University of California regents this January approved a 2.5% tuition increase and California State trustees are considering a 5% tuition increase.

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APR
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4.49% - 8.99%
4.49% - 8.99%

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Overview

Variable APR:
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Minimum Credit Score:
650
Minimum Income:
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Fees:
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Minimum Loan Amount:
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Details

Eligible Loans:
Private & Federal
Eligible Degrees:
Undergraduate & Graduate
Loan Terms:
5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years
Borrower Residency:
All states
Hardship Deferment:
Yes
Co-signer Option:
Yes
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3.99% - 8.99%

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on Earnest's website

Overview

Variable APR:
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Minimum Credit Score:
650
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Details

Eligible Loans:
Private & Federal
Eligible Degrees:
Undergraduate & Graduate
Loan Terms:
5-20 years
Borrower Residency:
All States except NV
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Yes
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No
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4.39% - 8.99%
3.99% - 8.99%

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on NaviRefi's website

Overview

Variable APR:
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650
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Details

Eligible Loans:
Private & Federal
Eligible Degrees:
Undergraduate & Graduate
Loan Terms:
5-20 years
Borrower Residency:
All States except NV
Hardship Deferment:
Yes
Co-signer Option:
No
3.53% - 7.24%
4.48% - 7.29%
3.53% - 7.29%

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on ELFI's website

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Variable APR:
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Eligible Loans:
Private & Federal
Eligible Degrees:
Undergraduate & Graduate
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3.99% - 8.49%
2.50% - 8.65%

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Variable APR:
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Minimum Credit Score:
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Private & Federal
Eligible Degrees:
Undergraduate & Graduate
Loan Terms:
5 – 25 years
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Varies
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No
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Eligible Loans:
Private & Federal
Eligible Degrees:
Undergraduate & Graduate
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All states
Hardship Deferment:
Yes
Co-signer Option:
Yes
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4.49% - 6.90%
2.50% - 6.90%

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on Laurel Road's website

Overview

Variable APR:
2.50% - 6.80%
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Minimum Credit Score:
660
Minimum Income:
None
Fees:
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Minimum Loan Amount:
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Details

Eligible Loans:
Private & Federal
Eligible Degrees:
Undergraduate & Graduate
Loan Terms:
5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years
Borrower Residency:
All States
Hardship Deferment:
Yes
Co-signer Option:
Yes
3.27% - 6.87%
3.99% - 10.68%
3.27% - 10.68%

View Details

on LendKey's website

Overview

Variable APR:
3.27% - 6.87%
Fixed APR:
3.99% - 10.68%
Minimum Credit Score:
680
Minimum Income:
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Eligible Loans:
Private & Federal
Eligible Degrees:
Undergraduate & Graduate
Loan Terms:
5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years
Borrower Residency:
All states, except ME, ND, NV, RI, WV
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Yes
Co-signer Option:
Yes
-
3.94% - 9.08%
3.94% - 9.08%

View Details

on ISL's website

Overview

Variable APR:
-
Fixed APR:
3.94% - 9.08%
Minimum Credit Score:
670
Minimum Income:
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Minimum Loan Amount:
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Details

Eligible Loans:
Private & Federal
Eligible Degrees:
Undergraduate & Graduate
Loan Terms:
5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years
Borrower Residency:
All states, except OR and ME
Hardship Deferment:
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Co-signer Option:
Yes

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