During his annual State of the City address on Thursday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Los Angeles will commit to providing every graduate of the Los Angeles Unified School District with one free year of community college.
“Tonight Los Angeles will become the largest city in the nation to commit ourselves to a new goal: every hardworking student who graduates from LAUSD will receive one free year of community college,” Garcetti said, according to the local ABC News affiliate in Los Angles, ABC 7.
The deal, once finalized, will reportedly begin in 2017. Funding will come from the community college district, the City of Los Angeles, and a private philanthropist.
Currently, approximately 65 percent of community college students pay no tuition at all, thanks in large part to Cal grants and other stipends. Extending free tuition, however, would cost California taxpayers an additional $420 million to cover over 400,000 students who are currently enrolled in and paying for community college.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has touted his plan to make community college free, consistently pressing his policy by suggesting he will tax Wall Street speculation in order to pay for it and many more of his other social programs.
In January of last year, President Barack Obama proposed two free years of community college, known as “America’s College Promise“. The proposal promises to cover tuition for students who maintain a GPA of 2.5, and is projected to cost over $80 billion over the course of 10 years. However, some argue that existing programs are already in place to cover the cost of two-year community college programs, and that they are already being paid for by taxpayers.
In addition to his emphasis on one free year of community college during Thursday’s address, Garcetti focused on jobs and wages, and reportedly said LA plans to hire 5,000 new employees over the next two years, recruiting among in-need communities, former gang members and include ex-offenders.
Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that was started by Father Gregory Boyle to help former gang members and convicts turn their lives around, has helped put many of these young men to work. Some of their most popular products include their chips and salsa, ds which are sold throughout Ralph’ss chain supermarkets in Southern California.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.