Attending City College would be free for San Francisco residents under a new proposal announced yesterday by Supervisor Jane Kim. The measure, which would need to be first approved by the Board of Supervisor before then being placed on the November ballot, could be implemented as soon as the fall of next year and would eliminate tuition fees for many.
“San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world - the cost of living has increased exponentially," wrote Kim in a press release announcing the measure. "When students have to make the choice between paying rent or paying tuition, buying groceries or buying textbooks, we have to act. Higher education isn’t a luxury - it’s a fundamental necessity if we want San Franciscans to be able to compete in the 21st century workplace and we have a plan that can fully fund this proposal to help over 20,000 students from all walks of life, of all ages, to pursue their dreams.”
City College used to be free, but over the years has increased its enrollment fees to $1,104, not including text books and other costs. “When I attended City College, it was free," observed Supervisor Norman Yee in support of the measure. "When I taught at City College, it was affordable. However, over the past decades, the College has become less accessible to those who need it most."
The Chronicle notes that this move might have the added benefit of helping the college build back up its student population, a number that has been on the steady decline ever since the school's struggles to retain its accreditation began in 2013.
Under the plan, enrollment fees (as they're called) would also be waived for people who work at least half-time in the city.
The plan is expected to cost $12.8 million, and, if passed, would be paid for via a so-called "mansion tax." According to the press release, the mansion tax "will increase the transfer tax in San Francisco by one-quarter of one percent for all property sales, commercial or residential, valued at $5M+ and creating an entirely new bracket of 3% for property sales valued at $25M+."
“People talk about inequality in San Francisco, and a big part of it is educational inequality," observed CCSF student Vivek Narayan. "This would be the most powerful tool in making strides toward greater opportunity for all."