SAN FRANCISCO—City College will offer free tuition to San Francisco residents next semester as SF Mayor Edwin Lee and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have agreed on a budget.
The city will allocate $5.4 million towards free tuition and books for low-income students for the next school year. The budget will cover tuition for current students and support a 20 percent increase in enrollment.
“We’re making City College free for all San Francisco residents, and that’s really exciting. This is just the beginning of our free City College program,” said Supervisor Jane Kim to the San Francisco Examiner.
Lee agreed to the $5.4 million deal last week after months of negotiating with the Board of Supervisors, college officials and advocates who initially wanted to spend $9 million on free tuition.
The $9 million would have included free tuition for international students and covered $1,000 worth of books and other school expenses for low-income students, the SF Examiner reports.
Under the current agreement, international students are excluded from free tuition program. Free tuition will be given to city residents who have lived in California for at least one year.
The deal is $1.1 million more than Lee said he would spend in the past. Initially, Lee was only willing to spend 4.25 million a year.
“We found an economic plan that would make City College accessible to our city residents and give additional support to those students struggling the most,” said Mayor Lee.
Lee pledged $5.4 million over the next two fiscal years. The multi-million budget includes $2.1 million for tuition and $3.3 million for student expenses.
Some educational professionals are disappointed by the amount of funding going towards the free tuition and books program.
Elisa Messer, Political Director at the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 told the SF Examiner the deal was a victory, but the faculty union is disappointed with the spending on books.
City College enrollment dropped by thousands after the school lost its accreditation 5 years ago. Colleges that lose accreditation cannot offer financial aid to students.
After years of proving the school could meet accreditation standards and a 500-page self-evaluation report, the school’s accreditation was renewed last month by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
City College officials are hopeful that enrollment will increase with the free tuition program and the school’s reaccreditation, reports said.
City College has 11 locations throughout San Francisco and student registration begins in March.