Sen. Marty Block took the lead in a hearing this week to delve into the possibility of doing away with tuition at California’s community colleges.
“As a marketing tool, free can’t be beat,” said Block, pointing out that while the California system is one of the most affordable in the nation, many high school graduates have a “mental roadblock” when it comes to thinking about college affordability.
About two-thirds of California’s more than 1 million full-time community college students currently have their fees waived through existing aid programs, leaving only about 400,000 who pay for their education. Still, that accounts for more than $400 million annually in fees. The system also has more than 1 million part-time students. Overall, it currently costs about $46 per unit for those paying their way, or about $1,200 in tuition and fees for the year.
But additional costs – including housing – can bump that all the way up to $18,000 per year for students not living with family, according to testimony at the hearing.