Paying for college can be expensive, especially when transferring to a four-year university after paying around $46 a unit at a community college and transitioning to paying close to $3,000 a semester for six or more units.

In an effort to help California community college students afford to transfer and graduate in four years, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) has introduced Assembly Bill 1862, which offers free tuition to students who have obtained an associate degree for transfer and are transferring to a California state school.

“The cost of a bachelor’s degree is just too damn high. Our students deserve the chance to earn a degree without being burdened by overwhelming debt,” Santiago said. “Providing two years of tuition-free CSU means students will save tens of thousands of dollars while earning their bachelor’s degree. AB 1862 puts that dream within reach for California students and their families.”

The bill, which will go to Committee on Higher Education for a hearing in early March, is the next step after bill Assembly Bill 19 was launched in 2018 and allocated $46 million to 114 community colleges in California. Those funds allow first time college students to attend their first two years of community college free.

The average graduation rate for college students is six years according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. Cost is often the main reason it can take years to graduate.

“Honestly, it would help me greatly so I don’t have to worry about tuition, loans or debt,” Shapi Etemadi, a 23-year-old biology major at Orange Coast College said of the proposed bill to cover four-year college debt.

Other students say the two years of free tuition at the community college level is a big help.

One OCC ceramics student who gradated college in 2015, before the first two years of college were free, said she is still paying on her student loans.

“I definitely took out loans to pay for it, so it’s been quite burdensome trying to pay it off in the aftermath,” Joanne Paek, a 26-year-old theater major said.

Other assembly members supporting the four-year free tuition bill include Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Orange County), Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside), and Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles). They declined to comment for this story.

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