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Is Community College Free In California

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Free City College Program

Free tuition at community colleges in California

The Free City College Program, also known as Free City, is a tuition-assistance program for San Francisco residents participating in for-credit classes at City College of San Francisco. Free tuition is available for City College students who have established California residency and live in San Francisco. Students apply for Free City by completing a one-page Free City Application, which is included as a screen within City Colleges online registration process.

Newsom Proposes Free Community College In California

As part of his broad education blueprint for California, Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom will propose a full two years of free community college in his first budget next week, according to a source close to Newsom with knowledge of the plan.

Newsom will include an additional $40 million in his budget to fund a second year of tuition-free community college, according to a gubernatorial transition document obtained by POLITICO. Full-time students already have the first year waived under a law that took effect this school year at participating campuses.

Free tuition would be available for first-time students enrolled in classes full-time at any of California’s 115 community colleges that choose to waive fees, according to the document. Under the plan, each college district could use their state funding to waive fees or expand student programs while continuing to charge students.

Newsom will also propose an additional $5 million for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to boost outreach encouraging students to complete a two-year program or transfer to a four-year college.

If community college districts waive fees, the plan would largely benefit middle- and upper-income families, based on past legislative analyses, since the system has long eliminated fees for low-income students.

“This sends a strong message that California is putting students first,” Oakley said.

Is It Better To Go To Community College First Then Transfer

Whether you choose to do community college before going to a four-year college depends upon your overall plan for higher education. Community colleges cost a lot less than a traditional four-year college, and also offer the flexibility to work while studying.

The average annual cost of tuition and fees for a public two-year college is $3,440 for in-district students. However, the average annual cost for a public four-year college is $9,410 for in-state students and $23,890 for out-of-state students, according to the College Board.

Another big reason for choosing community colleges over four-year university programs is their less-strict admission criteria, with many having open admission policies. This means that any person who graduates from high school and applies will generally be accepted.

On the other hand, if you want to have a more comprehensive and well-rounded learning experience with on-campus housing and dining facilities, athletic programs, and student clubs/organizations, then four-year university education may suit you better.

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Connecticut New Haven Promise

The Promise scholarship grants free tuition for New Haven residents, who graduated from a New Haven public school, attending public two or four-year colleges and universities in Connecticut.

If you are new to the city while in your freshman year, you can try to qualify for a percentage of the scholarship but the amount will likely be based on your length of residency in New Haven.

Eligibility Criteria

The scholarship is exclusive to New Haven residents who attended local public schools or an approved New Haven charter school. Students must have a clean disciplinary record and have completed around 40 hours of community service during high school.

Additionally, qualified applicants need a final high school GPA of 3.0 and a good attendance record, not missing more than 72 days in school.

The SEED program covers tuition for full-time students for two-year programs at the University of Delaware for its Associate of Arts degree program or any program at Delaware Technical Community College.

Eligibility Criteria

SEED is available for Delaware students who have maintained a 2.5 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale, or a combined score of 1350 on the new Scholastic Assessment Test or a composite American College Testing score of at least 19.

Students applying to the program cannot have been convicted of a felony and can enroll no later than the fall semester immediately after high school graduation.

Is Community College Free In California

Californias First Online Community College Opens Its ...

Community college isnt free across the board in California. As of 2021, the state has 116 community colleges, each with its own programs and fees as well as scholarships, grants, and other cost-cutting measures.

For example, Sacramento City College Los Rios Community College District tuition and enrollment fees for 2020-2021 are $46 per unit for residents and $353 per unit for non-residents. In addition to cooperating with federal and state grant and financial aid programs, the school offers its own financing initiatives, like SCC Philanthropy Scholarships and a textbook voucher assistance program.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Trade-Tech , has enrollment fees of $46 per unit for residents and $289 for non-residents . In addition to cooperating with diverse federal and state financial aid and grant programs, LATTC offers its own general scholarships for which students can apply .

These are just two examples. The point is, not all community colleges in California are free. Tuition and fees still apply. However, the costs are lower than a usual two-year or four-year state university. Further, community colleges offer many options for covering costs.

California offers some impressive initiatives designed to cover the cost of tuition essentially making school free. The state government has been a pioneer in creating an environment where all community college students can access educational opportunities, regardless of financial means.

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States Which Offer Tuition

The Arkansas Future Grant is a last-dollar grant that is available to students pursuing a two-year program in science, technology, engineering, and math fields or a regional high demand area of study.

Eligibility Criteria

Students who have graduated from an Arkansas public school or received a recognized high school equivalency diploma, and have lived in the state for three consecutive years are eligible to apply for the program.

Apart from that, a recipient must complete eight hours of community service per semester and must work full-time for three consecutive years in the state following graduation.

Unlike most of the programs in this list, California Promise is a first-dollar program, which means it provides tuition waivers to students, regardless of additional funding or grants the students are eligible for.

Eligibility Criteria

As one of the best examples of free community college on this list, state resident students planning to attend or attending a two-year or four-year degree can apply.

Only full-time students are eligible, which means students must complete 30-semester units within each academic year.

Average Cost Community College By State

Education costs vary from state to state. In the state with the highest cost of attendance, tuition is significantly more expensive than it is in the state with the lowest attendance costs. Further, in some states, the cost of attending an average community college is about the same as the cost of attending a 4-year institution. In other states, there may be a $10,000+ difference in annual costs.

  • There is a 477% difference in cost between the states with the most- and the least-expensive community college system.
  • New Hampshire community college students pay the most for their education.
  • California is the least expensive place to get a community college education.
  • Tennessee charges the highest tuition to out-of-state community college students.
  • South Dakota charges virtually the same tuition to in-state students as to out-of-state.
  • The total cost of attendance will include the price of tuition and will depend on multiple variables, including studentsâ living arrangements.


Community colleges in Alabama have higher-than-average tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

  • $4,540 is the cost of in-state tuition for the average community college in Alabama.
  • $13,070 is the total cost to live on-campus.
  • $9,410 is the out-of-state tuition cost.
  • For 4-year public institutions, the annual cost of in-state attendance is $19,052.



Arizona has the third-most affordable community college system, charging over a thousand dollars less than the national average.

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Can You Get A Degree At A Community College

At a community college, you can do either and even both. Whether you want to transfer to a four-year college, earn a degree, or obtain a certificate, let us help you find the right path to your success. Learn about career paths and career education opportunities designed to get you into good-paying jobs.

Hawaii Hawaii Promise Scholarship

Free college tuition in California: Who qualifies?

The Hawaii Promise Scholarship covers the tuition fees of students who are enrolled in at least six credits at a University of Hawaii Community College. This is a last-dollar program, meaning it covers financial needs not met by other forms of financial aids. It covers tuition, fees, books, supplies, and transportation for eligible students. Around 1,500 students received the scholarship in 2017-18, receiving an average of $1,200 each.

Eligibility Criteria

Residents of Hawaii who have submitted their Free Application for Federal Student Aid application can apply.

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Washington College Bound Scholarship Washington And The Seattle Promise

Washington has two main free community college initiatives.

The College Bound Scholarship is a last-dollar scholarship that covers tuition, some fees, and a small book allowance. Students in 7th or 8th grade from low-income families can apply.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Promise is a last-dollar program that allows graduates of local public schools to apply for a tuition scholarship that covers any remaining tuition balance for up to two years at any public Seattle college. If low-income students still need financial support for expenses beyond tuition, such as books, meals, or room and board, they can apply for the Seattle Promise Equity Scholarship.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the College Bound Scholarship Washington, students must meet the FAFSA income eligibility criteria.

Seattle Promise scholars are required to have good academic standing, a stellar attendance record, and must meet with their advisor each quarter to remain qualified.

What Is The California College Promise Program

The California College Promise Program provides free tuition to students who attend a community college for the first two years of their education. When it was first established, the Promise Program only covered one year of free tuition. The program was expanded by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019.

To qualify for the California College Promise Program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be a California resident or AB 540 eligible student .
  • You must be a full-time student.
  • You must be a first-time student.

However, this program isnt available at all community colleges. The school must waive students enrollment fees to take part in the free tuition program. Under the AB 19 bill governing the program, colleges are permitted to implement the California College Promise in different ways. Some schools opt to use the funds for other forms of student support, like helping cover the cost of child care or providing waivers for books.

If you take part in the Promise Program to cover tuition costs, you still have other costs to consider, like housing, books, or food. However, there are other grants and scholarships you can use to offset these costs., an initiative of California Community Colleges, provides a list of grants, scholarships, and other types of financial aid.

There are also funding programs available for special populations, such as veterans or individuals displaced from their homes by natural disasters.

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Why Study In California

  • Educational Opportunities

    California’s community colleges offer more than 200 programs. These programs give students options to reach a variety of desired goals.

    Some learners want to earn an associate degree. Others want to complete general education requirements before transferring to a four-year university. For these students, the system offers the Associate Degree for Transfer program. This guarantees admission and a saved spot at participating universities in California.

    Another program, the College Promise Grant, waives enrollment fees for qualified students. Many students at community colleges in California get financial aid to help with school costs.

  • Economy

    California boasts the highest gross domestic product in the nation. This number reveals the total market value of goods and services produced in a given year. It is a common indicator of economic strength.

    According to Bloomberg, since April 2020, California’s surging economy resulted in 1.3 million new non-farm payroll jobs and $164 billion in increased household income.

  • California College Promise Grant

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    For eligible California residents, the California Community Colleges Promise Grant permits enrollment fees to be waived.

    Many California community colleges offer online California College Promise Grant applications through CCCApply.

    When you use these financial aid online applications, the data you’ve entered in CCCApply will be transferred automatically, making your financial aid application much easier and faster.

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    Things To Know About Californias Free Tuition Program

  • Whos eligible for free tuition? Graduating seniors from California high schools who are accepted into any of Californias 115 community colleges are eligible for two years of free tuition.
  • How much will it cost the state? Under Gov. Gavin Newsoms new budget, California is providing $42.6 million to cover the second year of free tuition.
  • This plan means everything is free, right? Actually, no. Tuition is the smallest cost that a student faces when they go to college, according to Laura Metune, vice chancellor of government relations for Californias community college system.
  • How can students afford the extra costs? Newsoms budget also provides $41.8 million to increase the number of competitive Cal Grant scholarships. Cal Grant awards are the major financial aid program to cover non-tuition costs, Metune said.
  • 377 People Used

    What Is Noncredit Education

    Noncredit Education Noncredit instruction includes an array of no-cost courses that help students reach their personal, academic and professional goals. Colleges may offer noncredit programs of two or more courses to prepare students for employment or to be successful in college-level credit coursework.

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    Virginia Get Skilled Get A Job Give Back

    This Virginian initiative makes community colleges tuition-free for low and middle-income students pursuing degrees in high-demand fields, such as health care, information technology, and computer science.

    Students who qualify for a Pell Grant can receive student-support incentive grants amounting to $900 per semester and $450 per summer term.

    Eligibility Criteria

    Initial eligibility for the program will be determined through the submission of federal and state student financial aid applications, including FAFSA. Each participating institution will have more specific information on how to apply for the program.

    What Does Free Tuition Mean

    California To Offer 2 Years Of Free Community College

    UC, CSU and the community colleges each pledge to cover the cost of tuition for students who meet certain eligibility standards, typically based on income. Tuition in the Community College system is $46 per unit, so a student taking a full-time load of 12 credits per semester would have to pay $1,104 if they did not get any aid. At CSU, tuition runs $5,742 per year for a California resident attending full-time. And at UC, in-state undergraduate tuition and mandatory fees are $12,630.

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    What Could National Free Tuition Mean For California

    It depends on which, if any, of the free tuitionbills gets through Congress. What state leaders definitely don’t want is for California to get less federal funding than other states that charge more for tuition. That could happen if the government matches the cost of tuition in each state rather than allocating funding based on average tuition nationwide.

    “Since California has the lowest tuition in the country, we wouldn’t want to see our students be penalized because our state invests more money in our system,” Chancellor Oakley said.

    Oakley would also want federal tuition funding to come with enough flexibility to allow states to use the money to best serve their students, while still holding them accountable for positive outcomes. He said he’d like to use federal dollars for supplemental instruction and emergency aid to minimize “all the things that we know very, very well prevent low-income students from succeeding.”

    Jessica Thompson, associate vice president for The Institute for College Access and Success, cheered Biden’s plan to also provide two years of subsidized tuition at four-year universities designated as “minority-serving institutions,” which would include many of the California State University campuses as well as some University of California campuses.

    The True Cost Of Tuition

    “As the conservative in this space, I’m supposed to be outraged by the idea of socializing the two-year sector of higher education,” says Beth Akers, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a staff economist at the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. “But the reality is that this shift that he is proposing is not as dramatic as the rhetoric around it would have you believe.”

    She points out that the majority of community college students qualify for federal and state grants and scholarships.

    “Right now, the majority of low-income students already go to community college for free, because of the combination of state aid and federal grants, their net cost, on average, is actually negative, meaning they’re getting some money back to cover living expenses,” she says. “So the idea that we’ll make community college tuition-free, sounds dramatic, but it’s not actually a huge change in the logistics of how we’re funding post-secondary.”

    According to The College Board, the average net cost of tuition and fees at two-year community colleges is actually -$220. This means many community college students are getting a small surplus, though not close to enough to cover books, supplies and living expenses. The estimated total net cost of attendance at community colleges is $14,560, on average.

    For this reason, Akers is skeptical of how impactful a tuition-free community college policy would be.

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