San Francisco Becomes First Major US City to Offer Free College Tuition

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San Francisco’s mayor announced Monday that the city would make college education free to all of its residents through the City College of San Francisco.

The agreement, made possible through a tax on properties sold for at least $5 million, is expected to begin next fall.

“To California residents who are living in San Francisco, your community college is now free,” Mayor Ed Lee said.

Any San Franciscan who’s lived in the city for at least a full year will be eligible, regardless of income, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Supervisor Jane Kim likened the agreement to public schooling for K-12 students, saying that City College would be free to all, too.

“Even the children of the founders of Facebook,” Kim said. Here’s how the deal works:

San Francisco voters approved a transfer tax last November. Through that, the city plans to provide $5.4 million annually for qualified students to cover the $46-per-credit fees they typically pay, according to the Chronicle. Both full- and part-time eligible students can qualify.

Low-income students with fees already waived by the state will receive $500 per year if they’re enrolled full time, ABC 7 and KCRA 3 reported. Those funds can be used to pay for textbooks and supplies, which total about $1,700 for full-time students. Such students attending part time will receive $200 per year for the same purpose.

City College trustees hope the program will deal will lead to higher enrollment and, with that, more state funding for the school. The college lost a third of students during an accreditation crisis, The San Francisco Examiner reported, but had its accreditation renewed last month. The city’s $5.4 million is enough to pay for current students’ tuition while allowing for a 20% enrollment increase, according to the newspaper.

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