First year of community college could soon be free in California – Orange County Register

New community college students in California may soon see a surprising number on their tuition balance: $0.

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), who proposed Assembly Bill 19, thinks it will prompt as many as 19,000 students who might not have seen college as a possibility to pursue higher education.

“What we’re truly talking about is creating a college-going culture in our community,” Santiago said during a phone interview Monday.

But the bill faces some serious opposition, namely from Gov. Jerry Brown’s finance department. That office has argued that the bill will cost the state more than $30 million in part by giving waivers to students who don’t need the financial help, “inconsistent with the administration’s efforts to target financial aid to the state’s neediest students.”

In the last three decades, more than 5 million low-income California residents have already received tuition waivers through a program called the Board of Governors Fee Waiver.

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