New Law Puts California on Path to Offering Free First Year at Community Colleges

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The first day of class at East Los Angeles College in 2012. (Credit: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

A push to make California community colleges more enticing to first-year students was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday.

The proposal, AB 19 by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), lays the groundwork to waive the fees for the first year of community college for all first-time students. It’s an incentive that would draw in new students who wouldn’t otherwise enroll, Santiago said.

“Community college changed my life. It gave me choices and opportunities and it opened doors,” Santiago said. “I know free community college will change the lives of Californians.”

The state already offers fee waivers for low-income students, but some community college districts report that a substantial percentage of students eligible for the waiver don’t apply for it.

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