More than our public universities, more than our private colleges, the backbone of higher education in California is our community colleges.
The 112 campuses and 71 off-site educational centers in our state serve an astounding 2.6 million students. Nationwide, just as much as the California State University and University of California campuses, this system has been the envy of every other state. What is more amazing and what many Californians probably don't know -- it's our birthright, after all -- is that as superb as the community colleges are, the tuition there is also the lowest in the nation at about $1,380 a year.
Even so, fully 40 percent of the students attending community colleges have their fees waived. It's not just the poorest students who get this break -- a student from a family of four earning up to $90,000 annually can qualify for the fee waiver.