SAN MATEO COUNTY, CA — A bill that would allow the San Mateo County Community College District to make college free for local students in need passed the state Senate on Wednesday.
The bill, drafted by State Sen. Josh Becker (D-Peninsula), passed 33-0 and will head to the state Assembly.
Under Senate Bill 893, the district — which includes three community colleges in San Mateo County — would expand its Promise Scholars program, which can currently help 2,000 of the program’s 6,000 eligible students.
The bill, co-sponsored by pro Tempore Assembly Speaker Kevin Mulin (D-South San Francisco) and Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), gives the SMCCCD the power to set fees for tuition less than $46 per unit required by the state. It would also allow the district to use local revenue to cover registration fees.
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“The total cost to attend community college can be over $15,000, when you consider tuition, books, school supplies, transportation, housing, food, and other expenses that may seem overwhelming for students in need,” Becker said. “Senate Bill 893 empowers community colleges in San Mateo County to increase access to higher education for local students in need of financial assistance, as well as those from underrepresented or marginalized communities. »
San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor Michael Claire applauded the bill’s advancement through the state legislature.
“This bill will allow the SMCCCD to leverage local resources to help local full-time and part-time students access higher education by removing financial barriers such as tuition, fees, books , supplies, food and transportation,” Claire said.
The bill would establish a five-year pilot program for the district, taking effect in 2023.