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Jen Burnett


They say the best things in life are free and now you can add your first year of college to that list, thanks to Gov. Jerry Brown.

On Friday Oct. 13, 2017, Brown signed Assembly Bill 19, a new bill that would allow first year community college students free attendance for all new full-time students enrolling at any one of the multitudes of community colleges in California.

Middle College students may tend to get the biggest benefit from this new bill as they are given the opportunity to attend college for two years starting their junior year of high school for free.

LPC middle college student Teddy Padilla is going on his second year in the middle college program as a senior at a local high school. Padilla is excited about the opportunity to get another year of free college upon graduation, as the high school program he is in also pays for his college.

“I think being in middle college has been such an advantage already, since the program pays for our college classes. We’re already getting free courses and to know that the people in the program who are continuing their college careers get another year free, is exciting. I think it might be kind of a culture shock for us during our second year of college – especially those who’ve been in the program for two years – because we would have had three years of free education by then” said Padilla.

According to the California Legislative Information website, the bill was signed with the intent of increasing the number of high school students entering college and to increase the percentage of AA degrees and technical certificates earned. In addition, the bill aims to increase student transfer rates to CSUs and UCs, and reduce and eliminate unrepresented student achievement gaps for students with disabilities, foster youth, low income students, undocumented, formerly incarcerated and students who are veterans.

For middle college student Justine Magoon, an extra year of college of free college means her family can continue to put their money elsewhere and help other family members who need the financial assistance.

“I think that a year of free college could allow some people who can’t afford college to get a head start and to realize their education is important and people are there to help them grow and learn new things. It has massively helped my family and allowed us to put money into helping my other family members and to me that is worth it right there.” Said Magoon.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that the city of San Francisco saw an increase in enrollment by 16% after the city voted to offer free college tuition last year.

Guisselle Nunez, Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Government Relations for Chabot-Las Positas College is pleased with the new bill and the opportunity to help students.

“Any opportunity is welcomed to help students decrease debt and go to school” said Nunez.

AB 19 is not only for those who need assistance. The $32 million estimated bill will provide all students the same benefit of their first year free.

The new bill is set to go into effect Jan 1, 2018.

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