Sierra College to offer free tuition for first year students | SierraSun.com

Sierra College to offer free tuition for first year students

Hannah Jones
hjones@sierrasun.com

In an effort to reduce the financial burden of higher education Sierra College has recently announced that they will be implementing a program that provides free tuition to first year full-time students beginning this summer.

The program is available to California students who have earned six or fewer college level credits and will be offered at all four Sierra College campuses in Roseville, Rocklin, Nevada County and Truckee. In addition, any college credit obtained during high school does not affect eligibility in the program. The program is open to all students regardless of their age or income.

"A lot of it comes from the fact that if you take 15 units a semester you are much more likely to complete your degree," said Kim Bateman, Dean of the Truckee Campus. "We've got a large number of students taking 12 credits or fewer that aren't making a lot of progress … It's part of an initiative of increasing graduation rates.

"It's great because students who go full time actually do better in their classes than when they're part time," said Sue Michaels, Public Information Officer of Sierra College. "But they're having to work full time because they cant afford tuition. Students who sign up for the program will have less debt in the end."

To be eligible for the program students must enroll full-time and complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or Dream Act application for the upcoming school year. If the student is taking classes over summer 2018 they will need to complete that application for the 2017 to 2018 school year by June 30.

The program will cover all enrollment fees, estimated at about $690 per semester. However, the student is still responsible for paying approximately $60 to $77 in campus fees toward the health center, student center and course material fees. The college does offer free online textbooks for various classes and a large number of scholarships to eligible students.

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"Studies have shown that the most successful students are those who attend full time," said Stephanie Ortiz, Executive Dean of the Nevada County Campus, in a press release. "By significantly reducing costs we are helping them move forward with their educational plans without as much pressure to work full time or become encumbered with financial aid debt."

The funding for the program comes from a state bill that Governor Jerry Brown signed in October 2017 making one year free for students at the state's 114 community colleges.

California had one of the biggest and affordable community college systems in the country even before the program was enacted. Per credit fees for low-income students enrolled in community colleges have been waived since 1986. With the new legislation, free first-year tuition is offered to all students regardless of age or income.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at hjones@truckeesun.com or 503-550-2652.