‘Free college’ is a new rallying cry in California

When State University of New York and City University of New York students return to campus this fall, tens of thousands of low-income undergraduates will pay no tuition under a new scholarship program.

Rhode Island will also begin to cover tuition for nearly all recent high school graduates entering the state’s community college.

And San Francisco will, for the first time, waive enrollment fees at City College of San Francisco for any resident.

Concern over soaring tuition rates and ballooning student debt has propelled a rapidly expanding campaign for free public higher education at the local, state and even national level. In California, lawmakers, gubernatorial candidates and education advocates are among those pushing for ways to get rid of fees and other costs for some students.

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