Where Can Everyone Study for Free This Fall in California?

In a remarkable turn of events, the usual back-to-school season in California has taken an unexpected twist this year: free tuition is on the table for nearly everyone.

This means that high school students aiming for dual enrollment, young adults stepping into college, and even individuals of any age seeking to return to education can do so without the financial burden of tuition fees.

Two Oakland students, Gaijin Holquin, and Angle Sunlight, share their aspirations of becoming business owners and a librarian, respectively. Despite their diverse career goals, both are embarking on their educational journeys at Berkeley City College, taking full advantage of the remarkable opportunity for free tuition.

A Remarkable Opportunity for All

Holquin, expressing enthusiasm, exclaims, “I’m getting free tuition.” Sunlight shares the sentiment, stating, “My tuition was free, and it’s free for everybody.” The scope of this offer extends to rigorous degree-track college courses, as well as continuing education and trade classes.

Denise Richardson, Interim President of Berkeley City College, underscores the inclusivity of this initiative, asserting, “Back to school is for everyone at Berkeley City College.” She explains that federal funding is facilitating tuition and fee coverage for the upcoming fall semester. To seize this opportunity, prospective students need to follow three simple steps.

The Three Steps to Educational Freedom

  • Step One: Apply for admission. As Richardson highlights, Berkeley City College practices open access, ensuring that everyone is welcome.
  • Step Two: Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), even if eligibility for aid is uncertain. This step is essential since federal funding is making this program possible.
  • Step Three: Register for classes, a process that can be completed online, with additional support from on-site and online counselors.

Berkeley City College isn’t the only institution extending this generosity. Several other local California community colleges are also offering free in-state tuition. Each college has unique details, which can be explored through the provided links.

A Lifeline for Aspiring Students

William Garcia, Vice President for Student Affairs at San Jose City College, emphasizes the importance of not turning down this opportunity. He shares, “Don’t say no to yourself. It’s free.” San Jose City College, too, is providing a tuition-free semester, aiming to reengage students who may have discontinued their studies during the pandemic.

While textbooks remain an expense, some colleges offer programs to alleviate or cover these costs. Additionally, transportation concerns are addressed, with options for discounted or free transit available to students.

A New Start, a New Future

For students like Holquin and Sunlight, this opportunity is truly transformative. Holquin acknowledges, “Truthfully, without free tuition, I doubt I’d even be going.” Sunlight echoes the sentiment, saying, “I probably wouldn’t be able to go to school if it weren’t for that [free tuition] program.”

Both students urge those interested to take the leap. Sunlight’s advice is direct: “Just do it. Just go for it.” Holquin emphasizes that this path offers the chance to construct a promising future, right from the start.

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