Assembly Bills Would Cut Costs for STEM Students

     

    Two bills currently in the California legislature would decrease tuition and years spent in college for students interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, often referred to as “STEM.”

    Bills AB 181 and AB 51, introduced by Assemblyman Dan Logue, would include the University of California, the California State University system and the California Community Colleges system in a new program designed to better prepare high school students and lower tuition costs. The AB 181 program would apply to students on UC campuses, while AB 51 would assist STEM students at CSU schools.

    The program aims to help prospective STEM students who do not have the financial means to gain a higher education. The bill would also decrease the number of years students spend earning their degrees. If passed, the bills could expand into humanities and fields outside of STEM.

    “Last year, 269,000 foreign visas were given to fill American jobs in that field,” Logue said. “I would rather hire people from America to fill those jobs.”

    The bills would initiate a program, the Baccalaureate Degree Pilot Program, in which prospective STEM students would follow a track to enroll in classes that count toward college credits. Students who maintain B’s or above in the courses could transfer a maximum of 60 credits toward a college degree. Once accepted to one of the participating colleges, students could earn a bachelor’s degree in three years, as opposed to the usual five- to six-year expectancy. LegalTrac states that AB 181 would allow students to pay no more than $20,000 for college, excluding certain mandatory fees.

    “A lot of middle-class families have no ability to pay for a four-year university education, and this bill will allow our students to qualify and make it affordable,” Logue said. “There are students who have a unique gift in science, math, technology and engineering — why not open the doors and allow financial support?”

    Currently, Florida and Texas have begun instituting similar programs in those states’ public universities.

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