(UPI) — San Francisco will become the first city in the nation to offer free tuition at its community college to all residents, starting in the fall, the city announced.

The city will pay $5.4 million each year for the $46 per credit fee and semester fees at the City College of San Francisco, it was announced at a news conference Monday at City Hall.

The $2.2 million payout for tuition alone amounts to 45,000 academic credits, said Hydra Mendoza, a member of the San Francisco Board of Education. That represents a full-time courseload, or 12 credits a semester, for 3,750 students.

For students already receiving state-funded fee waivers, San Francisco will pay an extra $250 per semester for full-time students and $100 for part-time students to spend on books, transportation, school supplies and health fees.

All residents who’ve lived in the city for at least one year will be eligible. The current enrollment at City College of San Francisco is 23,410 students.

“Making City College free is going to provide greater opportunities for more San Franciscans to enter into the middle class and more San Franciscans to stay in the middle class if they currently are,” San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim said.

The money will come from Proposition W, which San Francisco voters approved in November. It’s a transfer tax on properties selling for at least $5 million.

Prop W is expected to raise $44 million annually, with most going into the city’s general fund.

A big push is underway nationwide for free college tuition.

On Friday at the California Capitol, a public hearing was conducted to find ways of paying for a free education.

California has more than 1 million full-time community college students, but about 65 percent of them now pay no tuition because of state grants and other stipends. But it would cost an estimated $420 million to cover the more than 400,000 students who are paying for their education.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch — and there’s really no such thing as a free education,” Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal said.

On Jan. 3, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced a plan to offer free tuition at state colleges to middle-and low-income New Yorkers. Students whose families earn less than $125,000 a year will be eligible for free tuition through the new Excelsior Scholarship at any state or city university starting this fall.

Sanders pushed for free tuition while campaigning for president in 2016.


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