San Francisco Made a Big Decision About College

February 7th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

A major U.S. city just made history, with San Francisco becoming the first metropolitan area in the country to offer free college tuition for all its residents, not just low-income students. 

"Making City College free is going to provide greater opportunities for more San Franciscans to enter into the middle class and more San Franciscans to stay in the middle class if they currently are," San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim told local station KGO-TV.

The city will put $5.4 million a year toward course credits at the City College of San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The deal also provides full-time low-income students $250 a semester to go toward transportation, books, and health fees, and $100 to part-time low-income students.

How will the city pay for it?

Last November, San Francisco voters decided to raise the transfer tax on properties worth more than $5 million. That will raise an estimated $44 million dollars a year for the city, according to the Chronicle, some of which will be used for the free tuition program. 

The movement for free college is picking up speed. 

Andrew Cuomo

In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a proposal to make New York public colleges and universities tuition-free for middle class and low-income residents, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at his side. 

Sanders made free tuition at public colleges and universities a focal point of his unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential election. Although he lost the nomination to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Vermont senator likely influenced her to include free college for low-income students in her campaign platform. 


Sanders continues to advocate for free college and better college affordability, despite an uphill battle with President Donald Trump in the White House.

During a confirmation hearing, Sanders asked Trump's Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, pointed questions about free college, to which she replied, "there's nothing in life that's truly free." 


Indeed, nothing is truly free, and taxpayers do pick up tuition costs. But as ATTN: has previously reported, countries like Germany have found success with this model. Germany offers free tuition to all of its citizens and has one of the strongest economies in the world. 

In a Feb. 3 interview with The New York Times, Sanders said he hopes other states follow Germany's (and now San Francisco's) lead.

"I will be supporting any governor who wants to do this," Sanders said. "Right now and for well over 100 years, we’ve talked about public education in America as being K-12, so we have to change the definition of what free public education means in a changing economy."

RELATED: Bernie Sanders' College Tuition Proposal is a Nightmare for Student Loan Companies