Free College for Californians Moves A Step Closer to Becoming A Reality

For immediate release:
  • Richard Garcia
  • 916-319-2059

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s (D-South Los Angeles) Assembly Bill (AB) 295, which sets in motion a plan to provide free college to California students, was approved by the Assembly Higher Education Committee with a 9-1 vote.

“California should be in the business of student success - not student stress,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “When college students have to choose working overtime to afford their tuition and living expenses, rather than focus time on their studies, it is abundantly clear we as a state must continue our work to expand college affordability and accessibility to our next generation of leaders.”

Over 45 years ago, higher education in California was a priority and an issue the public viewed as a public good. In an effort to ensure the least amount of barriers to a more educated society, the state did not charge students tuition. Yet, we have moved in an entirely different direction. California State University tuition and fees have risen 1360%, while University of California tuition and fees have climbed 555% since 1979. Additionally, costs of attendance, such as food and housing, have risen 40% since 1979, further adding to the financial stress of students.

AB 295 convenes a working group of higher education experts, including administration, faculty, staff, and students, to develop a pilot program that will provide cost-free college to California residents. In carrying out their work, this working group can focus on coordinating with participating campuses, identifying underserved students that would benefit from the program, and creating a model that will work in tandem with existing financial aid programs, such as the Cal Grant.

“Assembly Bill 295 will provide legislators with the information they need to develop a roadmap on how we can achieve tuition free college,” said Ron Rapp, Legislative Director with the California Faculty Association. “The California Faculty Association believes that tuition free college will create more opportunities for students, particularly those from low-income families, to have access to higher education. In addition, tuition free college will help to significantly reduce future student debt.”

AB 295 now moves to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer represents the communities of South Los Angeles, Exposition Park, and portions of downtown Los Angeles. For more information about Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, Sr., please visit https://a59.asmdc.org/