By Matthew Reagan
At seven local high schools, half of the nearly 1,200 college-bound students in the Class of 2019 are headed for community college in the fall, according to a recent survey by the Boulevard Sentinel.
There’s good news for these students. For starters, tuition and fees will be waived in the first two years of community college for first-time, full-time students, thanks to provisions in California’s new state budget. Previously, tuition and fees were waived for one year only. A year of tuition and fees is about $1,300.
In other encouraging news, the University of California recently announced that it has accepted 26,700 transfer students this year from California community colleges, its largest-ever class of community college transfer admissions and an impressive 76% of those who applied to transfer from community college.
Moreover, transfer acceptances are expected to rise in coming years due in part to the UC Transfer Pathway program, which gives community college students a clear roadmap of course preparation for the UC’s most sought after majors.
Transfer admissions for the fall in the Cal State University system were not available at press time, but historically, Cal State has accepted even more transfer students than UC.
Tuition-free community college coupled with a rising number of transfer admissions will address one of the toughest challenges that community college students face, namely, finishing community college and transferring to a four-year college or university where they can earn a bachelor’s degree. The California League of Community Colleges (CLCC) reported that in 2018, only 38% of community college students had transferred to a four-year institution within six years, a percentage that has not changed much over the years.
But those who do transfer make up a large share of California’s college graduates.
According to CLCC, 29% of UC graduates and 51% of Cal State graduates started at community college. And nearly half of students earning a bachelor’s degree from a UC in science, technology, engineering and mathematics transferred from a California community college.