City College of San Francisco is the nation’s first community college to offer free tuition

SAN FRANCISCO – Students in Eugene Bengan Gambol’s Asian American studies course are among the first to attend City College of San Francisco tuition free.

CCSF is the first community college in the nation to offer courses at no cost.

“I think pretty fair in whether you have financial aid or whether you can afford city college, which I find it’s pretty decent,” said student Catherine Salvador.

Last February, San Francisco supervisors announced the two-year “free city college” pilot program which will be paid for by a voter-approved tax on San Francisco properties.

But it’s not completely free.

Students still pay a total of $20 a semester: $17 for a health fee, $3 for web registration, and whatever will be the costs for books.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, fall registration is up 16 percent so far over last year, with nearly 4,900 more students.

Gambol says that thanks to free tuition, other students will return to the classroom.

“I believe that would support all ages not just students who are coming out of high school, but others who are professionals and older folks who just want to supplement their learning,” said Gambol.

In 2012, when City College was threatened to lose accreditation due to poor management practices, attendance dropped by about 30,000 students.

The commission reaffirmed city college’s accreditation in January.

And for now, these students say they can focus on getting an education without worrying about debt years after they leave school.

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