In East LA, Gov. Newsom promotes expansion of free tuition at CA community colleges

EAST LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom made a stop at East Los Angeles College to promote the expansion of a free tuition program at community colleges.

Diana Villafana, a first-generation college student, just found out she qualifies for a second year of free tuition under the expansion of the program known as California College Promise. She called it a relief.

"I come from an immigrant family. I didn't want my parents to worry about that," she said.

She is beginning a long path toward a big dream. After participating in a Relay for Life event, she decided to pursue oncology.

"I know it's going to be difficult but it's in my heart. I want to help them,' Villafana said.

Newsom was joined Thursday by the author of the original bill, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago.

Newsom has a made education a top priority under his administration and Thursday acknowledged there are many financial burdens students face in addition to the cost of tuition.

"One of the student leaders here - he's homeless," Newsom said. "He said the only thing that mattered to me that you said today was you acknowledged that what you said was insufficient. That really hit home with me."

Under the program, colleges can also allocate funds toward books, transportation, and child care.

In order to qualify for free tuition, students must submit either a FAFSA or CA DREAM Act application, and cannot already receive fee waivers. They must also be first-time, full-time college students.

Newsom's office said the expansion of the program will help about 33,000 students.
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