On August 3rd, Supervisor Jane Kim, other elected leaders, and the Free City Coalition gathered with students for a lunchtime Free City Celebration featuring the CCSF Jazz Band and the opportunity to apply to City College!
Last November, SF voters made history when they passed a tax on luxury property sales to make City College FREE again. With the start of fall semester on August 19th, the Free City Program will be the first of its kind offering universal free higher education for City residents. Free City serves a diverse range of students with more educational access—from traditional college-age students to immigrants, people of color, veterans, low income folks, their neighbors, parents, and grandparents!
Supervisor Kim has been a fierce advocate of the Free City program. “Higher education is a right. With the ever increasing costs of a college education, San Franciscans are taking an important step in making higher education accessible to all, regardless of income. I’m very thankful to all those who made this happen, from the Free City Coalition members who walked the blocks to the students who showed up to rallies.”
The Free City Coalition came together with elected leaders, students, faculty, and community groups advocating for the Free City program to keep City College affordable and accessible to all San Franciscans, in particular those who find it hard to make ends meet in an increasingly expensive city.
JJ Narayan, a CCSF student and a leader in the Free City Coalition said, “Our Free City Coalition was dedicated to organizing the city-wide effort to make Free City College a reality. Students today are struggling more and more for access to higher education, in an increasingly hostile system with rising tuition costs and policies that often push out marginalized students. As the first program to offer free tuition to all residents regardless of GPA, major, age, or educational history, Free City College is a truly bold and radical example of resistance in the larger fight back against downsizing and privatization. Thanks to our collective effort, Free City will serve as a model for other regions to soon follow suit, to change the tide in the war on public education, and ultimately realize our vision of a higher education system that’s accessible to all.”
CCSF Trustee Tom Temprano said, “Students across the country are hearing they are being excluded in Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos’ America. In San Francisco, we are saying the opposite. We are saying ‘Yes’ to free public higher education for everyone in San Francisco.”
In an era of skyrocketing student debt, students often are forced to face choices between enrollment and rent, between textbooks and food on the table. Josh Pechthalt, President of the California Federation of Teachers, described why CFT was so supportive of efforts to make Free City a reality in San Francisco: “The tremendous achievement of Free City College is not only that all San Franciscans have access to higher education without worry about financial obstacles. Its importance is also as a demonstration to the rest of the state that the aspirations of California’s Master Plan for Higher Education are still alive. Free City College, funded by the people who most easily can afford to give a bit more, proves that virtually any city that chooses to do so can bring a community college education to all who want or need it.”
Assemblymember Phil Ting spoke of a larger vision for California. “This is another San Francisco first. It shows how our community is ahead of the curve,” said Ting (D-San Francisco). “As we have seen before, other parts of the state will watch and seek to replicate what we do to expand free community college.”
The Free City program is giving thousands of San Franciscans greater access to education at CCSF. With just over two weeks before classes begin, more than 30,000 students have enrolled in classes at City College for fall semester 2017, a significant increase over the previous fall. Last month’s data on full-time equivalent student (FTES) units shows an estimated 17% increase in year-over-year combined credit and non-credit FTES, with a 25.5% increase in credit-only FTES. These numbers are preliminary, due to fact that the number of units varies widely during registration periods as students add and drop classes.
HOW FREE CITY WORKS
Free City enrollment has already begun and it’s not too late to register online at www.ccsf.edu/freecity. In-person registration begins at all CCSF campuses on Monday, August 7, 2107.
Free City covers Fall and Spring semester in-state tuition for residents with a San Francisco address who have lived in California for at least one year and one day. Free City also covers in-state tuition for homeless San Franciscans, foster youth, and undocumented residents qualifying under AB540, AB13, and AB2000. Eligible Free City participants will receive extra financial assistance of up to $250 per semester for books and transportation costs.
The Free City Coalition is AFT 2121, San Francisco Labor Council, Community Housing Partnership, Jobs with Justice San Francisco, San Francisco Rising Alliance, and the CCSF Solidarity Committee. Free City is a partnership between City College of San Francisco and the City & County of San Francisco, backed by the voters of San Francisco who passed Prop W in 2016.
FREE CITY COLLEGE CELEBRATION PROGRAM
- City College of San Francisco Jazz Ensemble
- Master of Ceremony Gordon Mar, Executive Director of Jobs with Justice
- Master of Ceremony Anakh Sul Rama, Community Housing Partnership Organizer,
- SF Supervisor Jane Kim
- JJ Narayan, CCSF Student Solidarity Committee Leader
- Assemblymember Phil Ting
- Joshua Pechthalt, California Federation of Teachers President
- Teddy T., CCSF Student, Class of 2017
- Dr. Mark Rocha, CCSF Chancellor
- Kathe Burick, CCSF Dance Instructor
- Hydra Mendoza, Deputy Chief of Staff for Education and Equity to Mayor Lee
- Tom Temprano, CCSF Trustee
- Starr, CCSF Student, Cinema Production Major
- Helen Pinto, CCSF Student, Anthropology Major
- Alisa Messer, AFT 2121 Political Director, San Francisco Labor Council Vice President and CCSF English Instructor