Free tuition for community college?

Miles Voci and Jack Law, Staff Reporters

PRO: Incentive for students to achieve more, without paying more

By Miles Voci

Education should be a right, not a monetized business, and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new $40 million budget plan to help fund an additional year of tuition-free community college for California provides the aid students desperately need.

More often than not, it feels like students can barely afford to support themselves. According to a report by Community College Review, the average tuition for an in-state student is $1,700 a year, whereas an out-of-stater will be charged $6,800 on average.

This is a lot of money, considering a fair portion of community college students being working-class and struggling to even buy something as necessary as textbooks.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown, signed a bill in 2017, making the first year of community college free throughout the state at participating colleges.

Although Newson’s budget plan goes a long way in funding statewide community college education, some argue that taxpayers will be negatively affected. Critics say more education funding will directly raise the California taxpayer’s tab.

According to the Sacramento Bee that the governor’s proposed budget also emphasizes a significant increase in funding for Cal Grants to reward economically disadvantaged students. This is a big deal because more often than not, it feels like students can barely afford to support themselves.

Expenses such as parking, food and transportation, make education hard to afford, when it shouldn’t be.

Not having to worry about tuition can go a long way in helping students mental health as well as it alleviates the mental stress that stems from the financial fiscal aspect of education. This would give students the incentive they need to continue their academic studies and achieve more in life.


CON: Free tuition is not really free, you still pay some other way

By Jack Law

Free tuition is about as free as a small drink in a combo; you’re still paying for it, but not as much.

Gov. Newsom wants to extend free tuition for community college to two years. As a long time student I am not affected, yet I know many other people who could heavily benefit.

Life in California is insanely expensive, and being able to afford an education requires sacrifices for a lot of people. The question then becomes, is it actually free?

The current program comes from the excess budget that California gets from the taxes that we all pay. So even if you are benefiting from the free tuition, you are still paying for it.

Take the bus pass that De Anza College offers, for example. Everyone who attends the college pays around $12 per quarter for the pass, regardless of whether or not they take advantage of it.

A common fear some might have is free tuition could raise taxes, but Californians already pay such high taxes that the state has a significantly large excess of cash to burn after budgeting. But if they were to put fifty million into this program, that money will not go into healthcare, or public transport.

Many students can not afford cars and get trapped in circles of repairs that force them onto a shoddy public transport system. Healthcare is a sacrifice many make in order to afford their education, often taking the cheapest plan they can or depending on the government, since the law dictates that they have health insurance.

If the state does give out free tuition colleges could also raise textbook or food prices in order to compensate, as they are given a set amount of money based on an average instead of the flexible amount given by paying students.