On Feb. 6, San Francisco Mayor, Ed Lee, announced that San Francisco would become the first American city to provide free college for its residents.
Of course, many questions arose such as: Is it really free college? Is there a catch to any of this? Is anything required? How is this being afforded/funded?
San Francisco stated that $5.4 million a year would be set aside to cover the cost of enrollment fees and other expenses for the City College of San Francisco reported by Zack Friedman, contributor at Forbes.
Lee also announced that they will also set aside $2.1 million dollars from the $5.4 million to cover the cost of credit classes for California residents who have lived in San Francisco for at least a year.
Any San Francisco resident enrolled at City College of San Francisco would qualify for the free tuition or supplemental aid.
The remaining $3.3 million will go towards funds for books, transportation, supplies and health fees for low income students qualify have Board of Governors. This is a program that is intended for students who plan on attending a California community college and also permits their enrollment fees to be waived. This fee waiver covers the assistance for the purchase of books and other additional supplies according to Forbes.
The tuition money for the students attending the 2-year college will be funded through a transfer tax placed on San Francisco homes and commercial properties that are selling for $5 million or more.
This proposal was approved in November when San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim introduced the idea to the Board of Supervisors using San Francisco’s wealthiest residents’ taxes to assist the funds and provide free community college according to Kim.
The proposal also stated that it would provide full-time low income students who already have fee waivers from the state $250 per semester to cover costs of books and transportation as well as other necessities.
Free community college will become effective in the Fall of 2017 as well as the start of San Francisco receiving $2.1 million dollars per year over the next two years from the city’s government. In return the city must receive 45,000 subsidized academic credits per year from the students enrolled in the college.
Supervisors of San Francisco stated to Abigail Hess, writer at CNBC, “it’s going to be hard to tell how many people will be receive free tuition until registration closes in the fall.”
San Francisco City council said that their plan for free college is said to go on for at least the next two years before they decide what their further plans are, reported to Hess.
Due to the fact San Francisco is the second most expensive city in the United States, they plan for free college not only being an opportunity for those to further their education, but to also provide some economic boost for residents and students that are trying to have an education and living in San Francisco.
According to the Lee, after 2 years of free tuition, the city will review and decide whether to keep funding the initiative and what the next steps are to either keep or remove free college.