San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced this week that it will be the first city in the nation to offer free community college to all residents.
City College of San Francisco is now going to be able to offer college for free to about 28,000 residents that are attending classes there.
The city is now going to be able to pay for free college by taxing on properties selling for more than $5 million.
According to the city controller, the tax starts at 2.25% and goes up to 3% for properties worth at least $25 million. The city is supposed to gain an average of $45 million a year.
Many other states have initiated a plan like this before San Francisco, but the plan in San Francisco is a lot different. The free college is eligible to all residents if they have been living in the city for a minimum of two years.
“What also sets apart San Francisco’s plan is that it offers the poorest students additional money to help pay for these other expenses. An individual has to earn less than $17,000 a year to qualify for the aid, or less than $37,000 for a family of four. Eligible full-time students will get $500 a year and part-time students will get $200 a year.”, CNN stated.
It covers the $46 cost per credit no matter how rich you are, “even to the children of the founders of Facebook,” said city lawmaker Jane Kim.
Kim also thinks that this will help the city’s fast-growing income gap
“Making city college free is going to provide greater opportunities for more San Franciscans to enter into the middle class and more San Franciscans to stay in the middle class if they currently are,” she said.
Some people, however, feel that free tuition is just dragging people into going to college, even if they do not want to.
“The elephant in the room is whether free is good for an institution that has struggled,” said Mark Huelsman, who authored an influential paper on debt-free college.
Some believe that free college is going to make the education process for students less-challenging. If something is already struggling, people believe that making it free is not going to help without guidelines.
“We can encourage institutions to improve where they need to and make it affordable at the same time,” Huelsman said. By lowering the cost of an institution, it reduces the risk for a student of attending the school, he noted. What’s more, by making Community College of San Francisco free, it turns the college into more of a public good, which could encourage taxpayers, philanthropists and others to invest in it, Huelsman said.
“If done right, that could be an advantage,” he said.
Free college tuition is moving across the country. Places like Rhode Island, New York, and Tennessee are trying to implement a similar plan of San Francisco to try to better the education of their people.