California College Promise bill offers free first year of community college

Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Oct. 13 that will waive tuition for California students’ first year of community college.

California State Assembly Bill 19, introduced by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, will establish a program called the California College Promise with the aim of making higher education more feasible for students.

“I think it’s definitely a really good thing. I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction for our colleges,” said senior Matt Betti.

This bill reflects the growing idea that higher education should be free. In his bid for the presidency in 2016, Bernie Sanders suggested that public universities should not charge tuitions. This seems to many to be a step in that direction.

Many students at CVHS are excited by the knowledge that there will be no tuition fees for first year community college students and are anticipating its effects.

“This will definitely help many people take the next step in furthering their education,” said junior Patrick Chen.

A multitude see it as a way to make more knowledge and more training accessible to more people, and the bill itself states its purpose is to promote more successful transfers from two year to four year education.

According to the state legislature, the new program will cost $31.1 million, although that estimate is based on numbers from the 2014-15 school year and does not account for the any increased attendance.

These costs are not justified to some students.

“It’s a good idea in theory but the state doesn’t really have money to be throwing around, and I feel that it would be better put towards other things,” said freshman Colby Lambert.

The expense will come from the state’s feneral fund. The current cost for community college classes is $46 per unit per semester, and that will essentially be paid by the state for full-time first year students.

It is estimated that 19,000 students per year will benefit from the bill, though it is the hope of the Legislature that that number increases as more people take advantage of this and get more education.

“I hope this leads to more opportunities down the way,” said Betti.

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