Free first-year tuition is only a start for community colleges

Friday, November 3, 2017

Eloy Ortiz Oakley - Sacramento Bee

When Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 19, which will allow California community colleges to promise a tuition-free first year for first-time, full-time students, I joined the cheers of students, parents and the public.

But we should recognize that the struggle to lower the cost of attending college has only begun.

Every day, the 2.1 million students on our 114 campuses are preparing to transfer to four-year universities, earning certificates and associate degrees and preparing for jobs.
 
AB 19, by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, is not the first promise our state has made to students. Before this new law, California was a national leader in the College Promise movement. For more than 30 years, the community college system has waived tuition for students who cannot afford it. About 1 million students now receive assistance under what the most expansive program offered by any state.