Proposed Bill Would Give Some Students Two Years of Tuition-Free Community College

SACRAMENTO -- The author of the proposal to pay two years of tuition for community college students touts it as a social boost for Californians through a free education.

It builds on a program to fund the first year of tuition for junior college students, which can amount to $600 or more per semester for those taking a full load of 12 units.

But the proposed bill targets first-time, full-time students who amount to 46 percent of the state’s nearly 2 million community college students. In the Sacramento region's Los Rios Community College District that number is lower, with only 30 percent of students enrolled. Only 9.5 percent of its 67,000 students are first-time students.

In addition, the tuition program is geared toward those who finish in two years, a near impossibility given the difficulties of getting required classes and the necessity by many students who attend classes part-time and must work their way through school.

The bill’s author, Los Angeles Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, believes more students will take on a full-time schedule and finish in two years once they find that their tuition will be paid for.

The bill is set for legislative hearings in March.