California Assembly Calls for Second Year of Tuition-Free Community College

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Sacramento, CA – The California Legislature just took a giant step closer to providing students with a second year of tuition-free community college.  The measure passed with strong bipartisan support.                                                                                                                                                                    

Current law provides one year of tuition-free college for California students who are attending community college for the first time, and have signed up for a full-time course load. At a time when many students are taking on insurmountable debt to earn their degree, the author of AB 2, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), says his bill will provide relief.

“Adding a second year of free community college means fewer students will feel the pressure to take on debt they can’t afford,” Assemblymember Santiago said. “Our students deserve the chance to earn a degree and their place in the 21st century workforce. AB 2 puts that dream within reach for every single high school graduate in California.”

With the backing of Assemblymembers from across the state, AB 2 now heads to the Senate for consideration.                                                                                                                                                    

“AB2 is a statement of California’s investment in its most important resource: its people,” said LACCD Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez. “It keeps the promise of an affordable high quality higher education alive for all Californians, irrespective of zip code, native language or income.”

“Students across the state are facing record challenges,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). “California owes it to our students to make tuition free community college a reality. Tuition free community college will increase in-state student enrollment, allow more students to graduate with less debt, and empower students to be able to participate in the global marketplace.”

“AB 2 will help reduce the crushing impact of student debt on so many Californians by making community college much more affordable and accessible,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). “As a joint author, I’m proud to see AB 2 advance to the Senate. This is exactly how California should be leading.  With AB 2, the state makes a critical commitment and investment to help students achieve their dreams of going to college as well as to help create the skilled workforce of tomorrow that our state’s growing economy demands.”

“It is time we restore the promise of free community college in California,” 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.  AB 2 will help alleviate some of that burden and give community college students across California a helping hand by offering two years of free tuition.”

“Two years of community college allowed my mom to start a career in nursing and put our family on the path to the middle class,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “Every Californian deserves that opportunity. We must offer no-cost access to our great community college system.”

“In providing a free second year of community college, we are working to ensure that California has the best-educated workforce to maintain our competitive edge as the fifth largest economy in the world,” said Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona). “As state legislators, we must reaffirm our commitment to the success of California’s students. The future of our state depends on it.”

“I stand as a proud co-author of AB 2, because I believe in the power of education,” Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson). “This bill will expand opportunities to those across the state who may have been concerned about costs, but now have a clear path to complete two years of college and establish an academic foundation that will allow them to transfer somewhere else, or acquire the skills necessary to move into a field of their choice. This bill will give people hope who thought they no longer had a way forward, and for that reason, it is not only good for the economy, but is good for the soul of our people.”

“I am a proud co-author of AB 2, the California College Promise Program authored by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago to expand waiver enrollment fees for full-time students attending community colleges,” said Assemblywoman Luz Rivas. “The fact of the matter is, there are 40,000 homeless community college students statewide. Homeless and low-income students face the greatest barriers to college enrollment and graduation. Not only does this bill remove a financial barrier for these students in my district, but this bill creates the higher educational opportunity for these students who did not think that a college education even an option because of the lack of means.”

“A college degree can open the door to a lifetime of success,” said Assemblymember Friedman (D-Glendale), a joint author of the bill. “AB 2 will ensure that thousands of California students will have access to the education, skills, life experiences and opportunities that our network of community colleges can provide.”

“As a former community college student, I have seen first-hand the importance of education in expanding the opportunities in my life.  By expanding the College Promise Program, we will give the working class students and their families, assurance that the cost of higher education can be attainable,” said Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Orange County). “When California reinvests in its students, they invest in revitalizing a stronger workforce, educated students, and stability in our economic future.”  

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