Updated: Mar 21, 2019
New governor-elect Gavin Newsom proposed in his 2019-2020 fiscal budget that all students from all incomes can attend two years of community college at no cost.
By Joceline Rodriguez, Staff Writer
The former mayor of San Francisco who implemented California’s first “citywide” free community college is now taking his policy to Sacramento as governor.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Santa Clara University alumnus, wants to strengthen California’s educational system by investing in community colleges. He said in order to retain the economic strength of the state, one that is the world’s fifth largest economy, education must be a priority.
The new policy, known as Assembly Bill 2, targets middle- and high-income students who aren’t covered by the Promise Grant. The grant, which replaced the Board of Governors Fee Waiver, covers all tuition fees for low-income, full-time college students. AB 2 will accommodate independent students and working parents for two years, as stated by EdSource.
“My dyslexia led me on a unique educational journey, one of self-pace and self-discovery,” said Newsom in an interview with EdSource. “As a politician, I’ve voted against every tuition increase, fought the student debt crisis and helped lead the change for Promise Programs across the state.”
Los Angeles City College art student Deidra Siles said, “They’re telling us we can’t get a job unless we have this degree, but you need money to earn this degree. If Assembly Bill 2 were to pass, that would push all people to keep aiming at a four-year university.”
This year, California has an estimated $14.8 billion extra dollars in the budget. Newsom will include an additional $40 million in his budget to fund a second year of tuition-free community college, according to Politico California.
“Under the plan, each college district could use their state funding to waive fees or expand student programs while continuing to charge students,” Newsom said.
“The plan would give more Californians the opportunity to gain the skills and credentials needed to succeed in today’s economy,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.
If implemented, this would be the first time since 1985 that all California junior colleges become tuition-free. Colleges first charged $5 per unit in 1985. That number rose to $13 per unit in 1995. In 2019, tuition is about 10 times as much, sitting at $46 per unit according to ABC News Sacramento.
“I would love to see this implemented everywhere, not just in California,” said Valley business major Daniel Castro, “because that’s the stepping block to earning a college degree: having the money for it is always the first worry.”