Spring semester is free at Laney, Merritt and other Peralta Colleges

Azucena Rasilla


All four Peralta Colleges (Laney, Merritt, Alameda, and Berkeley) announced this week that the upcoming spring semester will be free once again for new and returning students. Undocumented students who qualify for the California nonresident tuition exemption, commonly known as AB 540, are also eligible for the benefit. International students are not exempt from paying tuition.

The initiative at these East Bay community colleges marks the fourth consecutive semester in which students are exempt from paying for tuition, books, parking, AC Transit bus passes, and lunch. A state COVID-recovery grant for California community colleges funded last semester. An emergency grant from the U.S. Department of Education supported last year’s program. 

Access to free tuition and other resources has increased access to higher education. Since the program launched two years ago, there has been a 38% increase in Latinx enrollment, a nearly 35% boost in African American enrollment, and an 11.5% increase in Asian/Pacific Islander students attending the community colleges, according to a statement from Peralta Community College District.

To qualify, eligible students must enroll and complete either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act application (for undocumented students). Those not qualifying for federal financial aid can still take advantage of the free tuition program. 

Laney has a “Spring is Free in 2024” website with all the details. New and returning students can also call the Laney College SOAR office at (510) 464-6929 or 464-3284. It will also offer an open house on Jan. 13 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to assist students with the process.

Azucena Rasilla is a bilingual journalist from East Oakland reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.

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2024-01-10 17:00:00 , The Oaklandside

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