The debate over free community college tuition–and what “free” means–continues

There’s been a lot of talk about California offering free tuition to all community college students in the state.

“It’s probably the smartest thing we can do because it will keep people in school,” Sacramento City College student Markese Pierce said. “It makes people want to further their lives and their future.”

Offering free tuition for more than 1 million full-time community college students is expensive, says KCRA news station. Could college really be free? Doesn’t someone have to pay for it?

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch — and there’s really no such thing as a free education,” Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal said.

Coupla said when students pay for their own education, they seem to take it more seriously.

Sacramento City College student Rosa Rodriguez agreed and said, “Some people just sign up for school and then they just don’t finish it for some reason — they’re not dedicated as much as other people.”

California community college tuition fees cost about $1,100 per year — among the lowest in the nation. If you add housing, transportation and books, the bill goes up to $18,000 or more, reports the news station.

At the state Capitol last week, people at a public hearing tried to find ways of paying for a free education, which might include some federal funds, but students need be held accountable, reports KCRA news station.

“They’ll have to maintain a certain GPA probably,” State Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, said. “They’ll have to maintain adequate progress towards a degree. We’re hoping this will encourage students to not just start — but finish college.”

About 65 percent of community college students pay no tuition, thanks to Cal grants and other stipends. But, free tuition for all students could cost taxpayers an estimated $420 million to cover the more than 400,000 students.

©2016 The Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, Calif.). Visit The Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, Calif.) at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura

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