Assemblymember Miguel Santiago submitted legislation to the state houses which would expand California Promise, making community college tuition-less for all state residents.
By Matthew Royer, News Editor
Free community college may be on the horizon for California residents.
Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) introduced AB 2266, also known as “Free Community College For All,” to legislators at the state Capitol on Feb. 17. Announcing the bill alongside Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Assemblymember Mike Fong (D-Monterey Park), Santiago looks to expand California Promise, which offers free tuition to eligible students throughout the state.
“Community college changed my life," said the assemblymember in a press conference streamed on Facebook Watch. “Educating communities empowers communities, plain and simple. That is why we are expanding [Promise] to provide two years of free tuition to all full-time community college students, regardless of if they are a first-time or returning student.”
Currently, to be eligible for California Promise, students must be high school graduates, not have taken any college credits (unless taken concurrently with high school) and match the financial aid requirements for free tuition, according to Valley College Promise.
Promise is known as Santiago’s flagship legislation. In 2017, the former LACCD Board of Trustees president introduced AB 19, which established California Promise. Later in 2019, the assemblymember introduced AB 2, which expanded Promise to a two-year program. The 2022 version of the bill looks to expand the program to every student in the state, no matter their financial or educational status, as long as they are a high school graduate or completed an equivalent.
“The LACCD College Promise Program has experienced unparalleled success, with higher overall rates of completion and persistence among mostly first-generation students.” said LACCD Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez in a district press release. “This bill expands much-needed access to higher education, keeps college affordable for working families, and accelerates the journey to a no-cost Associates degree for all full-time students, keeping California globally competitive in an inclusive economy.”
In 2016, Valley was featured in the launch of LA College Promise, the prototype of the statewide program introduced by Santiago in Sacramento. The presentation was shown to the second Lady at the time Jill Biden, who now in concurrence with being First Lady is still an active community college professor.