During his campaign for governor, Gavin Newsom stressed his intention to make tuition-free community college a reality for students in California. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California revealed that most Californians agreed that tuition-free community college should continue being a high priority for the new governor. The poll also found that the public wants to see the education system prioritized in the budget surplus that Newson has stepped into. This is great news for the students and teachers in California, and with strong fiscal management, we can have strong outcomes for the academic achievement of California students. One of the first subpopulations to benefit from these strong intentions is the California community college student population.
A few months ago, the San Francisco Chronicle interviewed various community college students about their current experiences and the potential impact that free tuition would have on them. Ya’Mese Johnson, the student body president at Merritt College in Oakland, shared that “…the two-year savings for a student taking 12 units a semester would be $2,208. That could mean the difference between having to take out more loans or pick up extra hours at a job.” Like Johnson, thousands of community college students would reap the financial benefits from this shift in policy.
Ed Source recently took a closer look at Newsom’s campaign promise and reported, “Nearly half of the 2.1 million students in the California Community College System already receive free tuition under the system’s College Promise Grant, which waives enrollment fees for low-income students.” However, Newsom’s interest in expanding this to include all students enrolled in the system is a significant education platform. Politico reports that Newsom has included this proposal as part of his first budget blueprint and has included “an additional $40 million in his budget to fund the second year of tuition-free community college.”
It’s no secret that thousands of college student face financial hardships during their time in school, and having the cost of tuition covered would alleviate some of that stress for all students, not just the low-income students already benefiting from similar grant programs. This support would release the pressure that students feel to work, at times, multiple jobs to make ends meet and instead would give them additional time and energy to focus on their studies.
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