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Free tuition at City College won’t be based on academic standing

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Interim Chancellor Susan Lamb and City College of San Francisco’s Board of Trustees have come to an agreement regarding free tuition at the school being offered to students regardless of their academic standing. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)

Students can attend City College of San Francisco for free beginning next semester regardless of their academic standing under a consensus reached last week between city and college officials.

After some debate over whether it should be a factor, Interim Chancellor Susan Lamb appears to have dropped the issue and agreed that students do not need to maintain a certain grade point average to attend for free.

SEE RELATED: City College may tie free tuition to grades

Lamb previously argued that students should be required to maintain a 2.0 GPA and complete half of their units to safeguard taxpayer dollars, but the Board of Trustees advised her against pressing the issue at their latest meeting April 27.

Academic requirements have since been removed from the draft memorandum of understanding between the college and the City and County of San Francisco, which is up for a vote Thursday at the Board of Trustees.

The issue caused concern for Supervisor Jane Kim and advocates who envisioned free tuition at City College as the higher education equivalent of a public school that gives students multiple chances to succeed.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Trustee Rafael Mandelman in an interview Monday. “There’s a larger issue about how the college deals with how students are succeeding, we need to do that outside of the context of free City College.”

The agreement came as continuing students began to register for classes, raising questions about whether the college and city officials can finalize a memorandum of understanding in time for next semester.

CCSF spokesperson Jeff Hamilton said while there are still some outstanding issues with the agreement that need discussion, “internally we’re moving forward with full-implementation.”

Mayor Ed Lee, Kim and Lamb first laid the groundwork for the $5.4 million agreement in February, months after voters approved a real-estate transfer tax on luxury properties that Kim intended for the effort.

Their offices debated issues like academic standing until last week.

CCSF’s official website was updated as recently as Monday to reflect different eligibility requirements for free tuition, removing the publicly posted requirement that students maintain a 2.0 GPA and complete half of their units.

The academic requirements mirrored those of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors fee waiver for underprivileged students.

“It’s the direction the entire board wanted to see it go,” said Board of Trustees President Thea Selby.

Lamb said April 27 that leaving out the requirements would create a loophole and questioned whether San Francisco should spend public monies on students who continue to fail.

Registration for continuing students opened last Wednesday. New students can enroll starting May 24.

“We are not stopping,” Selby said. “We are moving forward full-steam ahead.”

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