Assembly Member Santiago Bill to Expand Free Community College Passes First Committee

For immediate release:

(Sacramento, CA) Yesterday, AB 2266 (expansion of free community college) passed the Assembly Higher Education Committee (9 “yes” votes, 0 “no” votes and 3 abstentions). This legislation is authored by Assembly Members Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and sponsored by the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD). AB 2266 will expand the California College Promise (CCP) program to provide two years of tuition free community college to all full-time students, whether they are first-time or returning students. While Sen. Joe Manchin stalled expanding free higher education federally, California has a chance to take a step forward and lead on this issue.

“Community college changed my life," said Assembly Member Santiago. “It gave me choices, opportunities and it opened doors. I know that free community college will change the lives of all Californians. Educating communities empowers communities, plain and simple. That is why we are expanding CCP to provide two years of free tuition to all full-time community college students, regardless if they are a first-time or returning student.” 

“Making community colleges free for all full-time students is a game-changer for Californians and another step towards providing a debt free college throughout the state,” said Assembly Member Kevin McCarty. “Community college has a lot to offer and can provide many career and educational opportunities to hard working Californians."

“A higher education continues to be the greatest lever for economic and social mobility, especially for first-generation and lower income college attendees,” said Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez, Ph.D. “AB 2266 opens the door to countless Californians with some college credit, but with no degree or certificate that will be necessary for them to compete in this economy. This forward looking bill extends the benefits from the very successful College Promise Program to all full-time returning students, improving access, equity and college completion.” 

In 2017, AB 19 (Santiago) established the CCP, which authorized funding to be used by California Community Colleges (CCCs) to waive fees for first-time, full-time students during their first academic year. In 2019, AB 2 (Santiago) expanded upon the Promise program by adding a second year of waived tuition for first-time, full-time students. Over 33,000 CCC students received a CCP waiver in the 2020-21 academic year. CCP also provides necessary academic and financial supports for students through the use of counselors, peer mentors and other student success tools.   

Currently, this program only provides two years of free community college for first time students and does not include returning students. AB 2266 will remove the first-time requirement from the College Promise and allow all full-time students to receive two tuition-free years at any CCC, no matter what stage of life they are in.

Assembly Member Miguel Santiago is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization and the Assembly Select Committee on Los Angeles County Homelessness. He represents the 53rd District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon.