Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s bill would call
for a nine-member commission to propose a
plan for tuition-free college by 2019.

More than never, California colleges and universities are facing increasing demand from potential students and an education system that is buckling under the financial demand. East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta believes the solution is tuition-free college for all, regardless of income.
Bonta introduced legislation Tuesday that would create a nine-member blue-ribbon commission that would pave the first step toward universal education in the state. If approved, the commission would be require to present its findings by March 2019.

“The impact that a free and universal higher education system can have on our state is tremendous,” said Bonta. “California’s higher education system stands out for its high quality, but I know we can do far more to ensure affordable access for all.” San Francisco Assemblymember David Chui is a co-author of Assembly Bill 1038.

A future where only the rich can afford a college education or face crushing debt as a result of just a four-year degree is worrisome to many, not only for its implication for society, but the state’s economic readiness. Bonta’s bill notes the state estimates the state will need an influx of 1.1 million additional college graduates by 2030.

The costs to the state’s treasury, though, could be greatly strained by footing the bill for college tuition. Last month, the University of California Board of Regents approved a 2.7 percent hike on tuition to make up budget shortages. It was the first increase in six years and raises tuition to more than $40,000 a year.

“While I understand the costs of obtaining a degree go well beyond tuition, I believe the timing is right to begin the discussion for what our State can do moving forward,” said Bonta. “California should at least start studying the feasibility of that happening in our state.”