4 East Bay Colleges Make Spring Semester Free
By Olivia Wynkoop, Bay City News Foundation
All four East Bay colleges in the Peralta Community College District are waiving their course registration fees for the Spring 2023 semester for all California residents, among additional opportunities for students.
Announced Wednesday, Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College are offering fee waivers to those who complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
The campaign follows the colleges’ previously successful “Fall is Free” program, which kickstarted enrollment after student numbers were dwindling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Laney College President Dr. Rudy Besikof said the institute saw a 15 percent enrollment increase following the fall campaign.
“Our Fall efforts in this arena were a great success, as students, particularly those from historically underserved communities, need all the help we can give them while they get an education that will build their earning power and enrich their lives,” Besikof said.
The program is possible thanks to federal dollars from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Not only will the four colleges waive course fees, each one has additional resources and benefits for students who enroll.
At Laney College, those who complete FAFSA or Dream Act applications can receive free groceries and lunches, hotspots and Chromebook laptops, parking and public transportation passes if they take more than six units. Residents who are refugees or undocumented will also have tuition and textbook costs waived.
At Berkeley City College, students who enroll in more than six units can apply for a $150 Clipper card, free parking and an academic grant.
“We looked at the success of our Fall is Free program and got creative with ways to do more for our students with Spring to Success,” Berkeley City College President Dr. Angélica Garcia said. “Berkeley City College is pleased to remove the barriers to attaining higher education by expanding the benefits and widening the pool of eligible students. Building on our Fall efforts with a focus on completion can keep students connected to their career and academic goals.”
At the College of Alameda, students who enroll in more than six units will provide a $500 grant for books and other academic supplies.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for our students and their families to save significantly on the cost of their college education,” said Acting College of Alameda President Dr. Diana Bajrami. “Whether they are planning to transfer to four-year universities, earn a degree/certificate or focus on skill building, students and our community members will find a broad selection of high-quality courses free of charge at College of Alameda this spring.”
And for students who apply for FAFSA and enroll in six units at Merritt College, they can receive a $600 grant and free breakfast, parking, hotspots and laptop use.
“Merritt College puts students first,” said Merritt College President Dr. David M. Johnson. “We want to support students financially and lighten the load where we can. We took some inspiration from the Black Panther Party and their iconic ‘free breakfast for kids’ for our own free breakfast program this fall. We’re excited to keep that going for students this spring.”
Students can enroll in the Spring 2023 semester from Nov. 21.
Copyright © 2022 Bay City News, Inc. All rights reserved. Republication, rebroadcast or redistribution without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. Bay City News is a 24/7 news service covering the greater Bay Area.