Gavin Newsom: ‘Free’ Community College for 2 Years; Helps Fewer than 2% of Students

Gavin Newsom (Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty)
Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty

California Gov. Gavin Newsom officially announced Sunday that first-time community college students will be able to attend tuition-free for the first two years.

The state already covers tuition costs for the first year, and covers all tuition expenses for low-income students. The new benefit will therefore target wealthier students, covering an estimated 33,000 students — less than 2% of the 2.1 million students who enroll in one of 115 community colleges across the Golden State.

The original benefit, passed in 2017 to provide free tuition for the first year of study, was often spent on other education costs, EdSource.org reported earlier this year. Funding went to community colleges, rather than directly to students. The community colleges often used the funds to cover non-tuition costs, which are typically far higher than the cost of tuition itself (“$1,380 per year for students taking a full load of 30 units,” EdSource.org reported).

Sacramento-area NBC affiliate KCRA reported that the additional year of tuition will cost the state $42.6 million.

Gov. Newsom touted the new benefit in a speech on Sunday, using his address to taunt President Donald Trump:

Newsom celebrated the “diversity” of East L.A. and California as a whole, as if Trump were opposed to it.

He added that students were complaining about other costs, including rent, books, and child care. “We get that, we get we have a lot more work to do,” Newsom said, suggesting that California might seek to provide other “free” necessities.

The Golden State has enjoyed a budget surplus, but owes hundreds of billion of dollars in unfunded liabilities.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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