REDWOOD CITY – San Mateo County Supervisor David J. Canepa sent a letter to San Mateo County Community College Board President Maurice Goodman Thursday, May 2 urging the board to consider providing free tuition for all first-time, full-time students for two years. Currently some students in the district benefit from the Promise Scholars Program which provides free tuition and other services for one year for a fraction of the district’s students. Canepa suggests that San Mateo County should partner with the district to explore ways to fund the initiative.

“Until 1985, tuition was free at all 115 community colleges in the state but now costs nearly $1,400 a year for full-time students. This puts an undue burden on the Millennial generation, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, who face the highest housing costs in California’s history,” Canepa said. “The stories about students sleeping in their cars and struggling to pay for food are heartbreaking. The resources exist to give these young adults a fair shot to get an education, now we just need the political will to make it a reality.”

The California College Promise program became law in 2017 with the passage of Assembly Bill 19. The law was originally written to provide free tuition to first-time, full-time students who don’t receive the state’s tuition waiver for low-income students. It was amended, however, to give the state’s community colleges $46 million to spend in a variety of ways that do not always provide free tuition for its students. Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing to add an additional $40 million to the program in his first budget, however, it gives each college district the ability to either waive fees or expand student programs while continuing to charge students.

“The Promise Scholars Program needs to deliver on the promise that tuition should be free,” Canepa said.