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San Francisco first to offer free college

by Tegan Mazur - Copy Editor
Mon, Feb 20th 2017 10:25 pm
Photo taken from Marketing Solutions on Twitter

College tuition has steadily been increasing over the past several years. As a result of this, San Francisco is the first U.S city to make community college free by increasing property taxes for wealthy homeowners.
Photo taken from Marketing Solutions on Twitter College tuition has steadily been increasing over the past several years. As a result of this, San Francisco is the first U.S city to make community college free by increasing property taxes for wealthy homeowners.

 Looking for that special place you can call your alma mater? Well, get packing because I have got the perfect place for you. San Francisco, home of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Chinatown and more is going to be the first U.S. city to offer free tuition for students attending community colleges.

According to the Forbes article by Zack Friedman, "Free College: San Francisco Joins New York With Tuition-Free Plan," Ed Lee, the mayor of San Francisco, spoke at a press conference saying, "To California residents who are living in San Francisco, your community college is now free."

That's an extremely powerful statement to make nowadays, when college has never been more expensive and tuition is climbing each year. The only trick to it is: you have to be a resident of the city for at least a year to qualify and it is only for community colleges at this point. However, it's still a start.

I know that went from a large scale to a much smaller one quite fast, but, if nothing else, the symbolic implications of a move like this by the city of San Francisco are still huge. To offer free college to anyone in any context is fantastic news. It's hard to think that in the political and social climate we are now in that anything remotely positive could happen, but here we are. We actually took a step forward in the right direction. I'm just bracing for two steps back now. 

In fact, this is not the only step towards free college this nation has seen recently. According to the aforementioned article, "The announcement follows a plan introduced last month by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to provide free tuition to New York residents whose families earn less than $125,000 per year to any of New York's state universities (State University of New York, or SUNY), city colleges (City University of New York, or CUNY) or community colleges."

This really might become a trend? Free college tuition? Somebody catch me, I think I'm going to faint. It's almost as if state governments are starting to see something worthwhile in the investment of education for the next generation. How crazy would that be?

The movement to make college free in San Francisco comes after a significant drop in student count, according to the San Francisco Chronicle article, "The community college is one of the largest in the state but enrollment has plummeted from more than 100,000 students to 64,000 after financial mismanagement threatened its all-important accreditation."

This is almost too good to be true. I really ought to pinch myself and wake up already. San Francisco made a huge financial mistake which resulted in the loss  of thousands of students from one of its largest community colleges in the state. Right? Now they are making a combined and concentrated effort to rectify that mistake? 

I don't mean to be so cynical, but it just defies everything about how I know the government usually operates. I'm genuinely proud in this moment that something good actually came out of "financial mismanagement" in America. I'm so proud that somewhere in this country there is more than one person looking out for the interests of college students and the future in general. 

Another big part of this whole movement is how the city plans to pay for it. The city plans to increase taxes on housing that sells for more than $5 million. Oh boy! I hope San Francisco knows what its doing; there's no better way to stir up controversy than to try and tax the wealthy. Good for them though. It was a bold move to use rich people's extra money to help pay for college students to get an education. 

I also am extremely pleased that this movement, should it become a trend, is starting with community colleges. It might seem logical for a moment to think, "well why don't we make the most expensive colleges free first?" but I have the answer. The country has been moving quite quickly from a job market that wants high school graduates to one that wants college graduates, even in lower income jobs. 

Therefore, a movement to get people into community college for less is so much more beneficial. With a trend like this, adults of all ages can go out into the world and not roll over in their sleep worrying about how they are going to get a job with only a high school diploma. They will have the opportunity that comes with a college education. They will be able to go out and find better jobs and be financially stable. If they happen to live in San Francisco, their higher education will cost them nothing but time. Meanwhile, the wealthy only have to pay a little more in taxes to help a large portion of the population. Now that is a beautiful story.


teganh83@gmail.com