Story by Melissa Ibarra/Viking/Staff/@ibarra_mm

Student Trustee Andrew Lomeli and President Ambassador, Dal Arambula made the 6-hour drive to Sacramento to ask the Assembly Budget Subcommittee to consider expanding tuition-free college beyond the students who enroll full time for the first time, Tuesday March 14.

The Community College Promise will provide fee waivers to some students like the Board of Governors waiver does. Mark McDonald, panelist and part of the McCallum Group, said the proposal will increase full-time enrollment and will provide affordability, equity and access and inclusion.

Student Trustee Lomeli explained how the proposal will waive tuition to provide free college for first-time Community College students taking 12 units or more. During public comments, Lomeli told the subcommittee, “I’ve seen the success first-hand from the Long Beach Promise, but we would like to see it expanded.”

He told the committee members LBCC students are young, old, transgender, full-time and part-time students and asked everyone to keep in mind that a cap on who receives tuition-free college hinders students’ graduation.

Arambula shared his perspective on the College Promise: “The Long Beach Promise has been successful and has been a pioneer across the nation,” he said.

Arambula added, “I believe it should not be limited to students who are full time. If I had the help I needed early, my academic career would have been expedited.”

Students from other California Community Colleges also acknowledge the relief from tuition-free college, but it does not provide relief to all students since the waived tuition will not be available to part-time students.

Rocky Chavez, State Assemblyman of District 76, said the proposal means a lot to him having attended Community College, but the proposal does not recognize the responsibility of students. He asked Thomas Greene, president of American River College and a panelist, what the students at American River look like in regard to responsibilities they have.

Greene said his students’ have various competing responsibilities. “A lot of high school graduates do not go to college because they don’t feel they can afford it,” Greene said removing tuition, the number of full-time students would increase.

Mario Rodriguez, Vice Chancellor, said the substantial growth in enrollment happens when disserved communities are reached, helps students from dropping out before they complete their degrees.

Lomeli and Arambula had a chance to speak to Community College Chancellor and former LBCC President Eloy Oakley after the assembly meeting and Oakley said, “Keep reminding the committees that free tuition is great, but we need more aid for college students.”