Free Community College

Did you know that you may qualify for free community college in California? On this page, you will find information on the California College Promise Program and the California College Promise Grant - both of which provide eligible students with free tuition.

What is the California College Promise Program?

The California College Promise Program provides free tuition to students who attend a community college for the first two years of their education.

To qualify for the California College Promise Program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be a California resident or AB 540 eligible student (the California Dream Act waives enrollment fees for non-resident “Dreamers”).
  • You must be a full-time student.
  • You must be a first-time student.

Not all community colleges provide free tuition as part of the California College Promise Program. Accordingly, application processes vary between institutions.

If you’re interested in taking part in the Promise Program, take the following steps:

  1. Find a school offering free tuition via the Promise Program. This community college locator can help.
  2. Confirm your school’s eligibility criteria for the Promise Program. Eligibility criteria may include:
    • Proof of California residency (or Dream status)
    • Confirmation of first-time student status and full-time enrollment
    • Completion of the CADAA or FAFSA
    • Proof you aren’t eligible for the California College Promise Grant (see below for more information)
  3. Apply via your school. Most schools offer an online application process and (assuming they participate in tuition-free Promise Programs) will give you the option to indicate whether you want to take part in the program during the application process. For example, California’s Coast Colleges use this proprietary online system.

If you take part in your school’s Promise Program, you must maintain eligibility by maintaining a grade point average (GPA) minimum of 2.0 and maintaining your full-time status. You may be required to meet with a counselor to outline your educational plan and ensure you are keeping or exceeding the GPA minimum.

What Is the California College Promise Grant?

The California College Promise Grant pays community college fees for low-income California residents attending community college in the state.

This grant is available regardless of the number of units the student takes (e.g., you aren’t cut off after two years). Students are eligible for this grant even if they’ve been studying already.

To qualify for the California College Promise Grant, you must be a California resident or AB 540 eligible student (the California Dream Act waives enrollment fees for non-resident “dreamers”). Further, you must demonstrate financial need.

If you have any questions regarding this or other state issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to my office.

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