San Francisco Leads The Way In Free Community Education

San Francisco has become the first city to offer free community college tuition to all residents, an idea first put mooted by Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

San Francisco is partnering with a community college to offer free tuition to city residents starting next fall.

Ed Lee, San Francisco’s Mayor, announced in a news release that the city will be allocating 5.4 million dollars annually towards enrollment and other expenses for City College of San Francisco students, making it the first city in the nation to offer free tuition to residents.

Additionally, the new program will offer financial assistance for low-income students with a grant to fund books, transportation, health fees, and other expenses.

“As a child of working-class immigrants, I know first-hand the importance of a college education and the struggles to pay for it,” said Mayor Lee.

He further said, “Working together, we found an economic plan that would make City College accessible to our city residents and give additional support to those students struggling the most. This commitment will provide our residents the opportunity to attend college, continue to learn and create better lives for themselves. This is an investment in our youth, in our city and in our future.”

Supervisor of the San Francisco’s Board of Education Jane Kim also supported the move of offering free education to the city’s residents.

She said, “A little over a year ago, we set out to establish the nation’s most progressive program for universal free higher education that would be inclusive of all San Franciscans. Today, we can and should celebrate what is truly the people’s victory because this would not be happening without the partnership of educators, students, labor, and every San Franciscan who supports the idea that K-14 education is the key to opportunity.”

The City’s $5.4 million per year plan will allow for the following:

  • Free tuition for all students who are California residents living in San Francisco
  • $500 annually to full-time students that have a Board of Governors (BOG) fee waiver to use for books, transportation, supplies, and health fees. ($250 per fall and spring semester)
  • $200 annually to part-time students who have a BOG fee waiver to use for books, transportation, supplies, and health fees. ($100 per fall and spring semester).
  • The plan will also provide City College with a one-time amount of $500,000 (funded already in FY16-17) for capacity and systems to implement the plan.

Overall, the program could provide some form of assistance to 28,000 to 30,000 students, according to a press report.

Pollyanna Davy, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Edited by Jesus Chan

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