San Francisco

SF Supervisors OK Free City College for Residents, City Employees

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 10-1 in favor of a resolution calling for the city to make enrollment in City College of San Francisco free to residents and city workers.

The resolution, introduced in April by Supervisor Jane Kim, calls for the elimination of tuition fees for San Francisco residents and for those who work at least part-time in the city. It would also provide grants for low-income students receiving financial aid to help cover expenses such as transportation and textbooks.

Kim said that making higher education free was a way to make the city more affordable for residents and strengthen the city's workforce and middle class.

"San Francisco is going to lead the way by becoming the first city in the country to make credit classes at City College free for the city's residents and workers," Kim said. "City College is one of the last affordable opportunities in our region to obtain the education that is absolutely critical to allow for upwards job mobility."

Board members expressed enthusiasm for the proposal. Supervisor Malia Cohen noted that San Francisco was at the forefront of a national debate over free and low cost higher education.

"As a nation, we've taken large steps backward in making education unaffordable and inaccessible to everyday people," Cohen said. "We need to be increasing opportunities for people's education and not decreasing it."

Kim said the plan is expected to cost around $12.6 million in its first year.

She is proposing to pay for it with a November ballot measure that would raise the transfer tax on all property sales valued at more than $5 million and create a new 3 percent tax bracket for properties worth $25 million or more. The board on Tuesday continued a vote on that tax measure.

Supervisor Mark Farrell, the lone vote against the resolution, said he could not support it because he felt that the tax, as it was currently structured, should be discussed in the context of the city's overall budget.

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