8 California school n ews October 2017 advocacy New CA law offers free first year of community college On Oct. 13, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 19 (Santiago, D-Los Angeles), making the first year of community college free for first-time, full-time students enrolled at any of California’s 114 campuses. The new law will go into effect on the condition that funding is secured in next year’s budget. AB 19 creates a statewide version of the “college promise” programs that various communities across the state already offer. For instance, earlier this year, the City of San Francisco announced that all City College of San Francisco students would no longer be required to pay tuition. Another example is the Long Beach Promise initiative, provid-ing free tuition to any graduating Long Beach Unified School District student who attends Long Beach City College. Participants are also guaranteed admission to Cal State Long Beach if they meet transfer requirements. Other states such as Oregon and Tennessee also have col-lege promise programs. The new one-year fee cancellation will save students at least $1,100 (California community college classes cost $46 per unit). Proponents of the bill argue that these savings can be an important boost for students, citing other expenses such as textbooks, housing, food and transporta-tion as significant drains on a student’s finances. Community college students also have less access to the types of financial aid offered to stu-dents in four-year colleges. About half of the students currently enrolled in the California community college system already receive fee waivers based on their financial status. Advocates view this fee reduction as important for both students seeking two-year associate’s degrees and for students who use the California community college system to transfer to a University of California or California State University campus. A new report from the Campaign for College Opportunity found that a student who starts at a community college may pay $36,000–$38,000 more to earn a bach-elor’s degree than a student who directly enrolls at a four-year college. “Expanding access to higher education for all of California’s 6.2 million public school children is a step in the right direction,” said Julie Maxwell-Jolly, CSBA senior director of policy and programs. “The costs associated with pursuing a degree past a high school diploma are increasingly sending students into debt or are altogether keeping stu-dents from gaining the knowledge and training they need to advance in a competitive job market.” According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the state will face a shortage of 1.1 million college-educated workers by 2030, a year when projections estimate that 38 percent of jobs will require a bach-elor’s degree. “The costs associated with pursuing a degree past a high school diploma are increasingly sending students into debt or are altogether keeping students from gaining the knowledge and training they need to advance in a competitive job market.” —CSBA Senior Director of Policy and Programs Julie Maxwell-Jolly In order to receive a free first year of community college, students must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA, or a California Dream Act Application. School board mem-bers are encouraged to share this information with high school seniors. The California Department of Education has resources available through the “Race to Submit” campaign to help districts assist students with FAFSA and CADAA completion. These resources are available at http://www.csac.ca.gov/.