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McCarty and Cervantes introduce the Debt Free College Act — Measure expands existing Cal Grant and Middle Class Scholarship programs to help cover non-tuition costs like housing and books

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – On the first day of the legislative session, Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside) introduced AB 25, the California Debt Free College Act, a generational college affordability measure to halt the existing student debt crisis and expand economic opportunity.

Under the plan, California would be the first state in the nation to fund a Debt Free College experience for income-eligible University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) college students. The current family income cap for the Cal Grant and Middle Class scholarship program is $145,200 and $217,000, respectively. AB 25 would expand current financial aid awards beyond tuition assistance to help cover non-tuition costs like housing, books, food and transportation. This shared responsibility formula would be based on family income, expected family contribution and student contribution.

“The Debt Free College Act will be a game changer for families and students across our state. California has led the way in making college more affordable in recent years with the expansion of the Cal Grant program and the establishment of the Middle Class Scholarship. Now is the time to finish the job and allow our college graduates to enter the workforce ready to become thriving members of the middle class and not burdened by crushing student debt. Debt Free College is good for the students, good for our economy, and makes California a better place to live and raise a family,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. “With California budget actions over the past two years, we’ve funded $632 million of the $2.6 billion Debt Free College Plan. This bill sets us on a path to fully implement the Plan over the next few years.”

“Providing affordable and accessible paths to higher education is the key to California’s continued success as an economic and cultural powerhouse for both the United States and the entire world, said Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside).  “I am proud to be a part of this effort, led by my friend Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, to make the dream of higher education a reality for more students in California by providing a debt free college education at our state’s public universities.”

In 2017, McCarty requested the Legislative Analyst’s Office to provide cost estimates and a road map for a California Debt Free College Plan. Over the past 5 years, McCarty has authored the three debt free college bills – AB 1314, AB 1456 and AB 1746 – and crafted the budget plans to begin Debt Free College implementation.



Kevin McCarty represents California’s 7th Assembly District, which include the cities of Sacramento, West Sacramento and unincorporated Sacramento County. McCarty serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance. Website of Assemblymember Kevin McCarty: