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Bakersfield College students to get free first-year tuition under new legislation

Bakersfield College is seen Oct. 18, 2017. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last Friday that will make one year free for students at the state's 114 community colleges, so long as they are residents and new students who are enrolled full-time.

The legislation expands the waiver to all students, regardless of their income, for their first year.

Advocates of the new law said it aims to increase the number of students who enroll full-time, as well as the number of people who earn a degree that prepares them for in-demand jobs.

At Bakersfield College, there is already a program in place that waives tuition for thousands of students. That's called The Kern Promise.

Bakersfield College officials said 19,255 students receive financial assistance through the program. It helps students complete their associate degree for transfer within two instructional years, and upon successful completion students are guaranteed junior standing admission at one of the 23 campuses of the California State University system.

"We know that timely completion is the most important thing for our students," said Lesley Bonds, director of student success and equity for Bakersfield College. "In 60 units, it's saving not only the students money, but it's saving taxpayers money."

The California College Promise/Free Community College Tuition (AB 19) bill will become law on Jan. 1.

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