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Legislators Push for Two Years of Tuition Free Community College in CA

For immediate release:

Assemblymembers debut effort to make Associates Degree free

(Los Angeles, CA) – As the semester comes to an end for the first wave of students taking advantage of free community college in California, legislators and higher education leaders stood together earlier today at Los Angeles Trade Technical College to debut Assembly Bill 2 -- a measure to waive fees for Year Two.  By doing so, an Associates Degree in California will effectively become free.

Assembly Bill 2, jointly authored by Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago, David Chiu, Kevin McCarty, and Rob Bonta, was introduced yesterday, the first day of the 2018-2019 Legislative Session, to take an important step towards guaranteeing a completely free community college experience for California students.  The measure comes directly on the heels of the implementation of 2017’s Assembly Bill 19 which made the first year of community college free for all first-time, full-time students. That first round of students began classes at schools across California in August of this year.

“In the fight against income inequality, a free education is the greatest instrument we have,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). “We owe this effort to the students entering community college this year; we owe it to the economy of California – the 5th largest in the world; and most importantly, we owe it to our children. Whether community college is used as a stepping stone to our amazing four-year universities or to apprenticeships and workforce training programs, it is a key component of California’s education framework and should be the cornerstone of a debt-free education.”

“When Los Angeles launched our College Promise program, we were determined to put more than just a degree in reach for our students -- we aimed to hand every young person the keys to success in the classroom, in the workforce, and in their careers,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “One year of tuition-free community college has already yielded real progress among our young people, but our promise will remain incomplete unless we fund year two statewide. With Assemblymember Santiago’s leadership, we can meet our commitment to equal opportunity for all -- and ensure that no one’s zip code will ever define their future.”

"The Los Angeles Community College District mission is to transform students' lives through education, not to create tuition debt. LACCD stands proud and united with Assemblymembers Santiago, Chiu, McCarty, and Bonta, Mayor Garcetti and our college colleagues throughout the state in strong support of this landmark legislation to make our state's community colleges tuition-free and provide college access to all Californians," LACCD Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez said.

What state leaders on this issue are saying:

“Students across the country face unprecedented challenges,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco).  "Whether it be the cost of tuition, finding affordable housing, or paying off student loans, it is crushingly expensive to be a student today. Last year, we took a major step towards making college more affordable by guaranteeing one year of free community college.  We now pick up where we left off by proposing two years of free community college in California.”

"Too many California college students find themselves burdened with crippling college debt, making it difficult for them to buy a home, raise a family and contribute to our economy. Free community college would good for our students and well as for our economy.” Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance.

“When I meet with and hear from young people, including my 19-year-old and 13-year-old daughters’ friends and classmates, one of the things they worry about most is how they can pay for their dream of going to college without going into mountains of debt,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). “In addition, if California is to meet its future workforce demands, we need to make higher education more accessible and affordable. I’m proud to be a joint author on AB 2 because the cost burden on our students is simply too great.”

The introduction of AB 2 will immediately spur conversations about how to finance and implement the second year of free community college.  It is expected that the measure will be heard in policy committees in early March of next year.

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago is Chair of the California State Assembly’s Committee on Communications & Conveyance and is a member of both the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee and the California Latino Legislative Caucus. He represents the 53rd District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon.