California Legislators Double Down on Community College Promise by Introducing Measure to Make Associate Degrees Free for All Students

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – As the initial wave of first-time, full-time students begin their newly-free classes at community colleges across California, Assembly leaders debuted a measure stating the legislature’s intent to waive fees for all in-state students’ second academic year.  In doing so, an Associate Degree would effectively become free for all students in California.

Assembly Bill 1862, jointly authored by Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago (D- Los Angeles), David Chiu (D- San Francisco), and Kevin McCarty (D – Sacramento) was recently introduced to take the important step towards guaranteeing a tuition free community college experience for all first-time, full-time California students.  The measure comes directly on the heels of the implementation of AB 19 (2017) (jointly authored by the same legislators) which made the first year of community college free for all first-time, full-time students and enactment of the 2018-19 Budget Act, which allocated $46 million to support the program. That first round of students will begin classes at schools across California in the coming weeks.

“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.”

 “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.”

Introduction of AB 1862 is a signal to the next governor, legislators, higher education advocates, students and families that the upcoming legislative session will prioritize making higher education more accessible and affordable for all California students. By taking the bold step of making two full years at a community college free all for first-time, full-time in-state students, California will be able to grow the number of degree and certificated workers needed to compete in the global economy.  Legislators McCarty, Santiago and Chiu plan to introduce a comprehensive measure on this issue when the 2019-2020 Legislative Session begins in December.


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