Governor Jerry Brown signs bill to make 1st year of community college free

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- "That will help a lot especially if they don't work. It's a big help," said Irvin Herrera.

"It'll give them opportunities to come to college and start careers they want," said Jessica Palma, Fresno City College.

RELATED: 'Central Valley Promise' program aims to provide students with two years of free community college

First year Jessica Palma has four siblings that plan to attend or are attending community college--much like the case of many students. The fee waiver means one less obstacle in the way of higher education.

"That will be a lot for my dad to take that off his plate," said Palma.

With 114 community colleges throughout California, more than half of the system's 2.3 million students already receive other financial aid.

RELATED: Fresno City College discusses future expansion plans with public

An estimated 19,000 students would be eligible for the fee waiver costing the state roughly $31 million annually.

For students in the Valley, there is even more incentive. Fresno City College, State Center College, and Reedley College were already part of the Central Valley promise--that granted 1.5 million to make first-semester tuition-free.

"Now this will give us an opportunity to go back to the state and determine how we can add value to that. So, either well do something with textbooks or perhaps go into the second year," said Fresno City College President Dr. Carole Goldsmith.

The likelihood of more students applying to community college calls into question how admission will be impacted. Dr. Goldsmith says the hope is to not turn any students away as this will promote more full-time course loads.

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School districts across the Valley are hopping on board some even helping high school seniors apply for the fee waiver.

"We have a goal of making sure our kids are college and career ready so they have a wide variety of options upon graduation," said Miguel Arias.
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