San Francisco’s free tuition inspires Los Rios

San Francisco city Mayor Edwin Lee announced on Feb. 6 that the city would be the first in the United States to make community college tuition free to all residents through the City College of San Francisco.

Cosumnes River College Public Information Officer Kristie West was amazed with the partnership between the city of San Francisco and the CCSF.

“They are ensuring a tuition-free community college education for residents, which will lay the groundwork for greater access to higher education,” West said.

She added that the importance of partnering the community and the business leaders is key when the priority is to educate as many people as possible.

It can make a huge difference in whether a student can support themselves financially when going through school.”

— Kristie West, Cosumnes River College Public Information Officer

The current price of one unit in the Los Rios Community College District is $46. To be considered a full-time student, a student must be enrolled in 12 units per semester, totalling a minimum of $552. This does not include the cost of all books and supplies which the students will need for the semester.

A way for students to cover their tuition costs is by applying for Financial Aid and the Board of Governors, the BOG fee waiver. The BOG fee waiver covers tuition costs for eligible students, while financial aid provides funding to students which they can use towards school supplies, books and potentially help with some living expenses. However, changes made to the financial aid process this spring state that financial aid only funds classes that are a part of their major.

“It can make a huge difference in whether a student can support themselves financially when going through school,” West said.

In order to be eligible to receive tuition-free community college under San Francisco’s new program, students must be a resident of the city of San Francisco for at least one full year, regardless of income level.

West said that the LRCCD is currently looking at business and city leaders to build a program like San Francisco’s.

Joshua McNeill, 26 and an anthropology major, agrees with LRCCD’s plan.

“It’s a good idea because you’re able to get your associates and potentially transfer to a better school,” McNeill said.

McNeill added that high school GPA and a minimum of enrolling in six units should be a requirement for receiving free tuition.

However, 25-year-old Alex Alvarado, a psychology major, disagrees with the possible program that the LRCCD is planning.

One example of the cooperation needed between city and college leaders is the current negotiations between Folsom Lake College and the city of Rancho Cordova. The city and college are currently in the process of constructing a program in which recent high school graduates from Rancho Cordova would be allowed to attend their first year at FLC tuition-free.

“Things like this grow to taxing more and more people until everyone is paying,” Alvarado said.

Things like this grow to taxing more and more people until everyone is paying.”

— Alex Alvarado, 25, psychology major

Even though the process is still in the works, West said that the response to the FLC program has been positive.

Currently, at CRC, there is the First-Year Experience program, which offers students attending college for the very first time a way to get on a pathway to success.

Students who complete the Summer Experience portion of the FYE would be eligible to receive free textbooks for their first academic year, according to the CRC website.

Some of the requirements of the FYE program include taking both a math and English course during the fall and spring semesters, as well as being enrolled in a minimum of 12 units.

The promise of free college tuition could possibly bring enrollment numbers up. When enrollment in campuses rise, colleges benefit from increased state funding as a result.

“Community college use to be free many years ago,” said West. “That is the direction many are wanting to head again.”