Dr. Jill Biden Praises California’s Passage of Free Community College
Dr. Jill Biden, the Honorary Chair of the College Promise Campaign National Advisory Board, applauds California’s passage of legislation providing one year of free community college for new students.
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed Assembly Bill 19 into law on Friday, establishing the California Promise, which will cover tuition and fees for first-time students to attend any of the state’s 114 community colleges for one academic year.
“By embracing statewide free community college for one year, California is investing in our students and taking a significant step to strengthen families, communities, and our economy. We are grateful to Governor Jerry Brown, California education leaders, and other public officials who led this effort,” said Dr. Biden.
Authored by Democratic Assembly members Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles, David Chiu of San Francisco and Kevin McCarty of Sacramento, AB 19 passed both the Assembly and the Senate last month with bipartisan support. Through this legislation, lawmakers aim to address both the shortage of college-educated workers and declining community college enrollment by expanding affordable access to higher education.
“In 2025, California will face an estimated shortage of one million college-educated workers needed to sustain the state’s workforce,” said Assembly Member Santiago. “This bill isn’t about voting and polling numbers. When you talk to most reasonable people, whether it be a CEO or leader of any firm, some sort program leader, they want a more skilled workforce. It just makes economic sense.”
In addition to providing a fee waiver, the new bill would require students to enroll for at least 12 credit hours and to receive guidance and academic support to ensure they have the resources they need to graduate. The goal is not only to increase student enrollment but also to improve academic performance and rates of completion for California’s community colleges.
“We are delighted that California has made the first year of community college free,” said Dr. Martha J. Kanter, the Executive Director of the College Promise Campaign. “By signing the California Promise bill into law, Gov. Jerry Brown is providing much-needed support for the state’s estimated 2.1 million community college students. Now more students in the Golden State who believed higher education was beyond their means will pursue college,” she said.
California now joins the ever-expanding list of states that have established statewide free community college programs. Just this year legislation was passed in New York, Hawaii, Arkansas, Nevada, and Rhode Island. Nationally, the College Promise movement continues to grow rapidly, with now more than 200 programs in 42 different states. Each new local and statewide program helps to build a college-going culture throughout the country.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 15, 2017
Contact: Andra Armstrong, Senior Strategist
Phone: (202) 827-6720