If you were a state resident on or before August 18, 2016, good news; you're eligible to enroll in free classes at San Francisco City College this coming semester.
The Free City Program is the first of its kind in the country to offer universal, free higher education to city residents. Voters approved legislation last November that taxed luxury property sales to help pay for residents' tuition.
"We are thrilled that the program is in place and we are grateful to the voters and the citizens of the city," said Jeff Hamilton, director of external affairs at CCSF.
"What I’m really excited about is that we are the first city to offer a program like this for anyone regardless of age, income, and grade point average," District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim told Hoodline.
"We looked at other programs throughout the country that offered similar programs, but they were limited by income and GPA," she said. "It was incredibly important to make sure the Free City Program be free to everyone, whether you are a tech founder or a resident working upward in their career path."
Free City is for all San Franciscans; houseless residents and foster youth who meet the residency requirement also qualify. New and returning students will simply fill out registration materials as in semesters past with no added paperwork.
"We’ve seen an incredible rise in enrollment and are close to exceeding our expectations of a 20 percent increase," said Kim. "It far exceeds any enrollment that we’ve seen in any year previously."
"Free City is designed to be what’s called a last dollar program," Hamilton said. "On the way into the registration process, we ask the students to fill out a financial aid form and if they qualify for the program, they get the benefits. If they don’t qualify, they get the free program."
The Free City Program, he said, "is making sure we extend the opportunity for free tuition so that nobody is left out. This is just bridging the gap."
The program covers the cost per credit of courses enrolled, currently $46 per unit. The program does not cover, however, the health fee ($17), web registration fee ($3), and the cost of any required course materials.
On top of the Free City Program, students are still encouraged to fill out financial aid forms starting with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Those who qualify for a Board of Governors fee waiver will potentially be eligible for an additional Free City stipend. Students enrolled in 12 units or more, would receive $250 per semester; students enrolled in 6 – 11 credit hours would receive $100.
"The community college system is the ladder up for very many people in various marginalized communities," said Hamilton. "If there is no access, if we want to make opportunity accessible, we have to make sure that we are not leaving anybody out."
The Fall 2017 semester begins August 19th. Click here to register for classes.
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