Associate degrees

Bill would pay CSU tuition for those earning associate degrees

ROCKVILLE — Solano Community College students who graduate with an associate degree would get two years of paid tuition at a California state university if legislation drafted by Los Angeles Assemblyman Miguel Santiago becomes law.

“The cost of a bachelor’s degree is just too high. Our students deserve the chance to graduate without being burdened with crippling debt,” Santiago said in a statement after a news conference this week to announce the 1862 Assembly Bill.

“Offering two years of CSU tuition-free means students will save tens of thousands of dollars while earning their bachelor’s degree. AB 1862 brings that dream within reach of California students and their families,” Santiago said in the statement.

Celia Esposito-Noy, superintendent-president of Solano Community College. (Courtesy picture)

Celia Esposito-Noy, superintendent and president of Solano Community College, supports any program that helps students and said she believes it will encourage more students to take the community college route.

And she said Solano College, which granted 1,599 associate degrees in 2017, has the space and infrastructure to handle the load.

“It would definitely save taxpayers money if students did their first two years at a community college,” Esposito-Noy said.

“What would be more helpful, for all of us, is for the state to pay community colleges the same rate of pay per student as (public universities),” she said.

Still, Esposito-Noy wonders why the state just isn’t cutting community college tuition and fees. She said that these fee waiver programs have a lot of administrative costs and that needs to be monitored.

The bill has yet to receive support from the Community College Chancellor’s Office, although it does not oppose the legislation either. The office did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Republic.

The bill has the support of the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest community college district in the state.

“Sixty years ago, California’s higher education blueprint guaranteed all community college students the opportunity to transfer to the California state or UC systems to complete their bachelor’s degree. . AD 1862. . . brings us closer to the vision that hard-working California students, regardless of background, could earn a bachelor’s degree for free at one of the nation’s top universities,” said Andra Hoffman, chair of the California District Board of Trustees. Los Angeles Community College, in the release. published by the Santiago office.

“Students shouldn’t be saddled with debt when they graduate from college. What better way to invest in our state’s economy than to invest in our human capital,” Hoffman added.

Details on how much it might cost the state and where those funds would come from are still being worked out, according to Santiago staff. The commitments, if any, that will be required of students to complete a bachelor’s degree program are also not known at this time.

Esposito-Noy said she believed there were resources available to pay for the program, and without withdrawing funding for other education programs.

“I don’t see a downside to that,” Esposito-Noy said.

AB 1862 will be heard at the Assembly Higher Education Committee in March or April. Santiago is a member of this committee. No member who represents Solano County is on the committee.