California would pick up the first year of community college for virtually all full-time freshmen under a bill passed by the state Legislature on Wednesday and headed to Gov. Jerry Brown.
AB19 by Assemblymen Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles; David Chiu, D-San Francisco; and Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, would waive the $46-per-unit fee for full-time students in California entering their first year of community college. Low-income students already can apply for a fee waiver, but the bill would cover the cost for an additional 19,000 students’ first year. Each student taking 12 units each semester would save $1,104 a year under the bill.
“Our state used to make higher education affordable, and for California to stay a great state, it has to be affordable again,” Chiu said.
Students would still be responsible for other educational and living expenses if not covered by financial aid or scholarships. Lawmakers said they hope the bill will increase enrollment and college completion rates.
City College of San Francisco saw its enrollment spike after the college made attendance virtually free for San Francisco residents who have lived in the state for at least a year. Fall enrollment was up 16 percent over last year, or nearly 4,900 students.
Brown has not indicated whether he supports AB19.
The bill was among hundreds lawmakers have moved through so far this week.
Melody Gutierrez is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @MelodyGutierrez