San Francisco Is Making City College Free For All Residents

In a historic move, San Francisco will be the first city to offer free community college tuition to residents. The plan was announced Monday by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. According to ABC 7 San Francisco, around 30,000 students are expected to benefit from this program, though The San Francisco Chronicle reports that with the allocated funding, only 3,750 students would be able to take a full course load in the first year.

The program will cost the city around $5.4 million and is expected to come from an increase in real estate transfer fee for properties valued over $5 million (so essentially, it's a tax on the rich). The tax was approved by San Francisco voters by ballot in November and is projected to raise over $44 million in a year.

To qualify for the plan, students must live in San Francisco for a year and one day by the time of enrollment. Both full time and part time students are eligible. While the program will cover tuition, it will not cover books, technology or transportation fees. However, full time students will receive an extra $500, split between the two semesters, in financial aid. Part time students will only receive an additional $100 a semester.

San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim hopes this move will help improve incomes for many San Francisco families, noting that most jobs in the future will likely require secondary education. Kim told ABC7, "Making City College free is going to provide opportunities for more San Franciscans to enter into the middle class and for more San Franciscans to stay in the middle class if they already are there." Additionally, this is expected to increase enrollment as San Francisco community colleges enrollment was dropping due to accreditation issues. The accreditation problem was solved earlier this year but enrollment has been in a steady decline. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, many officials hope it will attract students back to the college and help restore state funding.

The funding will go into effect this fall.