Assemblymembers debut effort to make Associates Degree free
SACRAMENTO — As the initial wave of first-time, full-time students prepare to begin their newly-free classes at community colleges across California, Assembly leaders debuted a measure stating the legislature’s intent to waive fees for Year Two. By doing so, an Associates Degree in California will effectively become free.
Assembly Bill 1862, jointly authored by Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago, David Chiu, and Kevin McCarty, was introduced last week to take an important step towards guaranteeing a completely free community college experience for California students. The measure comes directly on the heels of the implementation of 2017’s Assembly Bill 19 (jointly authored by the same legislators) which made the first year of community college free for all first-time, full-time students. That first round of students will begin classes at schools across California in the coming weeks.
“In the fight against income inequality, a free education is the greatest instrument we have,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). “We owe this effort to the students entering community college this year; we owe it to the economy of California – the 5th largest in the world; and most importantly, we owe it to our children. Whether community college is used as a stepping stone to our amazing four-year universities or to apprenticeships and workforce training programs, it is a key component of California’s education framework and should be the cornerstone of a debt-free education.”
“Students across the country face unprecedented challenges,” 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. Last year, we took a major step towards making college more affordable by guaranteeing one year of free community college. We now pick up where we left off by proposing two years of free community college in California.”
“California’s future economy will require over a million new academic degrees to compete in the global marketplace,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). “Providing California students with a free second year of community college will increase in-state student enrollment, help more students graduate with a degree or certificate and will support a strong, sustainable economy in the Golden State for generations to come.”
What state leaders on the issue are saying:
“Young people should have every chance to find their passion and grow their talents — and higher education is a path to the success that we dream about for all of our children,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “L.A. has been leader in the movement to expand access to community college, and I am proud to join Assemblymember Santiago in this movement to keep breaking down more barriers so that no student in California grows up believing that a degree is beyond their reach.”
“Tuition costs have been a barrier for too many Californians to attend college. That’s why we created the College Promise Program last year, to allow more first-time students to attend school full-time,” said Senate Pro Tempore Emeritus Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles). “Now we need to double down on that commitment by providing a second year of tuition-free college. By doing so, we can empower the next generation of leaders to obtain a high-quality education, allowing them to achieve their goals and forge their own path to success.”
The introduction of AB 1862 is a signal to legislators, policy-makers, higher education advocates, and families alike that conversations will begin immediately about how to finance and implement the second year of free community college. The legislators plan to introduce a comprehensive measure with the start of the 2018-2019 Legislative Session in December.