California Competes Executive Director Lande Ajose joined EdSource Executive Director Louis Freedberg and producer Sarah Tan to explore the benefits and shortcomings of AB 19, a bill that gives free tuition to any full-time, first-year community college student. Their conversation was recorded for the podcast, “This Week in Education,” on October 20, 2017.
What we know about college students, and particularly our state’s community college students, is that tuition is not the biggest barrier for them to attend college. Increasingly, it’s the cost of living and the total cost of attendance that really drives the affordability crisis that our California Community College students face.
– Dr. Lande Ajose
Dr. Ajose told the EdSource team that approximately one million students out of the more than 2.1 million who attend community colleges do not pay any tuition already because they are tuition-free under what was formerly known as the Board of Governors Fee Waiver. Those students would not benefit at all from a law offering free tuition for one year. Their success rates could be improved by other strategies, such as those addressing the crisis they often face around childcare or their need for transportation.
Said Dr. Ajose, “It doesn’t get at the root of the problem. We really want to make sure that our students are not only able to get to college because they have free tuition – we want to make sure they are able to make it through college because their needs are met, and they can study and be successful.”