West Valley-Mission Community College District Endeavors to Enact Legislation Permitting Free Community College
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, November 15, 2022
Saratoga – The Board of Trustees of the West Valley-Mission Community College District adopted a resolution on Tuesday, November 14, 2022, to use local funds to waive tuition and enrollment fees for its students. In addition, the board also took the monumental step to waive the costs for students related to parking, health fees and childcare effective January 1, 2023.
Chancellor Brad Davis will now be authorized to work closely with local lawmakers on authoring, introducing and championing legislation that would allow the District to use unrestricted general funds to provide fee waivers to students residing within its boundaries.
“The adoption of this resolution marks an inflection point in the history of our District enabling students to shed financial burdens that often force them to choose between their education and the responsibilities of food, housing, transportation and the myriad of financial challenges they face,” said Chancellor Bradley Davis.
The resolution includes several transparency requirements and safeguards including a provision that requires the District’s Board of Trustees to establish a framework and adopt policies to determine eligibility. Students will need to also demonstrate financial need and reside in the District’s boundary preventing any competitive advantage with neighboring community college districts.
The District will need to publicly provide financial impact information at an upcoming Board of Trustees meeting that details it has the funds to reduce fees for students and will not seek a reimbursement from the State.
“As we witness a troubling trend of increased housing and food insecurity among our young adults, higher education continues to be unattainable for so many,” says Senator Dave Cortese who serves on the California Senate Education Committee and championed guaranteed income for unhoused students. “I am grateful for the leadership and partnership of the West Valley-Mission Community College District Board of Trustees as we work to create a path for our local students to access education, employment, career advancement and lifelong success.”
The resolution incorporates the U.S. Department of Education’s definition of a student’s cost of attendance (COA) which includes an estimate of tuition and fees, cost of living expenses, cost of books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and miscellaneous expenses including costs of a personal computer, allowance for childcare or other dependent, costs related to a disability, and reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs.
“The total cost of attending college is deterring many students from achieving their academic goals. When you consider the total costs of college including food, housing, and health care, in addition to tuition and books, we are crippling students and undermining their ability to succeed in the classroom. Many students are struggling to make ends meet, working multiple jobs and relying on food pantries to eat and friends’ couches to sleep. I’m grateful to the students we have heard from and look forward to working with them to address the issues they raised,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman, who chairs the Assembly Select Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education in California.