Sensible approach to free college

Posted 5/13/16

Kudos to Santa Ana College for offering zero tuition for first-year students who graduated from the Santa Ana Unified School District. The move serves as a reminder of when, during the 1960s, there was no tuition at all California colleges and universities. The new program begins in September and will save eligible students $1,104.

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Sensible approach to free college

Posted

Kudos to Santa Ana College for offering zero tuition for first-year students who graduated from the Santa Ana Unified School District. The move serves as a reminder of when, during the 1960s, there was no tuition at all California colleges and universities. The new program begins in September and will save eligible students $1,104.

SAC is the first Orange County college to offer conditional free tuition. “At least 10 such programs exist across California, including those in the San Diego Community College District and at Ventura College,” the Register reported. “Tuition will be paid by the nonprofit Santa Ana College Foundation, funded in part by city and Santa Ana College employees through payroll deductions, a $5 million state grant and Santa Ana College’s Centennial Scholarship Campaign.”

The high cost of college has become an issue in the presidential contest. “End Student Debt, Vote Bernie,” read signs held by young people yesterday behind Bernie Sanders at his campaign rally in Stockton. He promises free tuition at all public colleges and universities in America through his College for All plan. “The cost of this $75 billion-a-year plan is fully paid for by imposing a tax of a fraction of a percent on Wall Street speculators,” states Mr. Sanders’ website.

Even though he mathematically can’t win the Democratic nomination, Mr. Sanders is still campaigning this week in California before our June 7 primary. His tuition position especially resonates as college debt has soared. “Research indicates that there is $1.2 trillion in student loan debt,” reported Market Watch.

In their April 14 debate, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton objected to Sen. Sanders’ free-college plan, “That the federal government will cover two-thirds of the cost and require the states” to cover the rest. But her own plan also would boost college financial aid by $35 billion a year.We think financial aid for higher education is best handled at the state level. And, as we have noted, administrative bloat on campuses needs to be cut, not subsidized, as under the Clinton and Sanders plans. In the meantime, Santa Ana College’s free-tuition offer should be celebrated.

— The Orange County Register