Well, this is some exciting news! The state of California recently announced that it will make one year free for students who are enrolled at a community college full-time. Students will still be responsible for additional fees that might be charged, such as those for student activities or health care. All full-time community college students qualify, regardless of their income level.

The new bill was signed by Governor Jerry Brown and is similar to what New York and Rhode Island have in place. Already, California has one of the most affordable community college systems in the United States; it also has one of the largest. Students pay just $46 per credit hour, which ends up costing about $1,100 a year for full-time students.

Why California is Moving Toward Affordable Education

The state of California has an agenda in mind.

First, research shows that students who are enrolled full-time compared to part-time are more likely to succeed. By giving one year off from financial obligations, lawmakers hope to increase the number of students who attend school full-time. Second, a comprehensive education prepares students for more jobs, which in turn can benefit the California economy as a whole.

For those who live in San Francisco, the deal is even sweeter. Earlier this year, the city approved a tuition-free program that made courses at local community colleges free for all residents. Students don’t need to be full-time or new to the school. Additionally, San Francisco offers lower income students financial assistance with other expenses.

Is Free Tuition a Good Idea?

California’s community college program could start as early as next year. As more states consider affordable tuition options, let’s talk about the pros and cons to this.


  • Responsible students are not denied an education

  • Relieves students from decades of debt

  • Earn first half of a bachelor’s degree (associate’s degree)

  • Increase competitiveness of the American economy

  • Raise graduation rates, especially among lower income students


  • Colleges will need to be funded by taxes or private donations

  • Young people may not know how to handle their finances

  • Decreased importance of college

  • More people would go to college, resulting in waitlists and added fees

Final Thoughts

There are pros and cons to both sides, which is why we think highly of California’s new bill. The state isn’t wiping away tuition. Students will eventually need to choose another school to get their bachelor’s degree. In the meantime, however, aspiring students from all walks of life can start the first half of their education without being overburdened with debt.

What do you think of the new bill? Would affordable tuition work for your community college?