On Wednesday, a public hearing in the State Senate considered a proposal for free education for all community college students–a main component of “Democratic Socialist” presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)’s campaign.
According to local NBC affiliate KCRA, California’s community colleges currently have more than a million students enrolled. Approximately 65 percent of community college students currently pay no tuition at all, thanks to Cal grants and other stipends, KCRA notes.
However, extending free tuition to all would reportedly cost California taxpayers an additional $420 million to cover the more than 400,000 students who are currently paying for community college.
After ending in a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton at the Iowa caucus on Monday, Sanders gave a victory speech and touted his plan for free education.
I believe that in the year 2016, public colleges and universities should be tuition free. My critics say, ‘Well Bernie, that’s a great idea. All this free stuff. How you gonna pay for it?’ I will tell you how we’re gonna pay for it. We’re gonna impose a tax on Wall Street speculation.
While many students from troubled socioeconomic backgrounds expressed their support for the motion, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association reportedly gave the plan a failing grade, calling it much too costly.
State Sen. Marty Bock (D-San Diego) told KCRA, “I don’t see this as a cost so much as an investment. We’re really going to see in the end a lot of return for the investment.”
Even with a “free education” the likelihood of finding a job in the current economy is still going to prove challenging. A recent study in the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the U.S. unemployment rate for 20-t0-24-year-olds–the average age for recent college graduates who are just entering the workforce–is nearly twice that of 25-to-34-year-olds.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.