Residents of San Francisco to have tuition free education at local college

While Sonoma State students face a possible $270 tuition increase this fall, some community college students will have their tuition burdens lifted. This includes students at City College of San Francisco who will soon see tuition disappear altogether, at least for city residents.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Jane Kim announced last week that City College would become tuition free for all city residents. 

Using money from a voter-approved tax on property sales of over $5 million, City College will now have the funding it needs to cover all tuition for anyone who has lived in San Francisco for a year or more. 

There is also enough funding to offer an extra $250 a semester to cover the cost of books.

City College of San Francisco is leading the nation to realize America’s Promise Plan, former President Barack Obama’s plan to make community college free for all those who work for it.

“As a child of working-class immigrants, I know first-hand the importance of a college education and the struggles to pay for it,” Lee said in a prepared statement. “This commitment will provide our residents the opportunity to attend college, [and] continue to learn and create better lives for themselves. This is an investment in our youth, in our city and in our future.”

The City College’s plan is similar to the Doyle Scholarship offered at Santa Rosa Junior College, which excites SRJC President Dr. Frank Chong.

“I applaud the Free Tuition Program at City College,” Chong said. He served as dean of student affairs at San Francisco City College from 1993 to 2003. “I know up close and personal the transformative impact that this program will have on low-income students who may otherwise not attend college.”

Chong said he hopes the actions of City College will encourage local students in Sonoma County to explore the possibilities of their education.

“We are blessed in Sonoma County to have the Doyle Promise Program which provides scholarships to high school graduates with a minimum 2.75 GPA,” he said.

Since 1950 the Doyle Scholarship has handed out over $82 million in student aid.

According to Chong, Santa Rosa Junior College is planning to launch an extension of the program in fall 2017, which will provide an additional $1,000 for returning students. “If they maintain at least a 2.0 GPA,” Chong said, “they will qualify for another $1,000 in their sophomore year.”

Chong said he is excited to see students getting more opportunities. 

“Today’s economy requires more than a high school diploma,” he said, “that is why it is so important to make college affordable for all.”