New California law makes first year of community college free - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

New California law makes first year of community college free

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For those who have ever thought about going to college but never had the funds to get there, the state of California is opening up the opportunity for people of all ages, regardless of their economic background, to get one year of community college for free.

It's called the California College Promise and there are no age restrictions.

On the Central Coast, Cuesta College and Allan Hancock College will both be participating. 

"If they're 30 years old and they're coming to the campus for the first time, it would be free," said Dan Troy, Vice President of Administrative Services at Cuesta College.

The requirements to take advantage of the program are simple. You must fill out a free application for Federal Student Aid or a California Dream Act application, be a first-time college student and enroll in 12 units to be considered a full-time student.

Currently, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County high school students are eligible for a similar promise program.

Jordan Jantzen, 19, a Cuesta College student, took advantage of the program after he finished high school.

"The idea of free college and not having to go pay for any of my fees was a very tantalizing idea and so I took full advantage of that.," Jantzen said.

Outside of having tuition covered, first-year promise program participants also have their health services fees covered, as well as ID card and student services fees. 

"The Cuesta Promise right now provides tuition-free education for the first year for recent high school graduates from this area," Troy said. 

The California College Promise program only covers tuition.

While these two programs are similar, Kevin Walthers, President and Superintendent at Allan Hancock College, says the college is working to see how the programs will work together. Regardless, the benefits exceed free tuition.

"The idea that we're making an investment in the students, the students have a responsibility to be successful, I think is going to be a huge part of the program," Walthers said. 

According to the bill, funding will be appropriated by the legislature, but the program could be implemented as early as the beginning of 2018. 

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