Free College

The San Mateo County Community College District and its three colleges, Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College, are committed to reducing the financial barriers to college so you can achieve your dreams. Two levels of support in the Free College program can dramatically reduce or eliminate your out-of-pocket student fees.

Level 1: Enrollment-Fee Waiver

  • What it covers: $46 per unit enrollment fee
  • Who qualifies: Individuals who live in San Mateo County*, including those who are undocumented, intending to earn a certificate or degree.

Level 2: Other Fees & Assistance (in addition to Level 1 Enrollment-Fee Waiver)

  • What it covers: Health fee, student body fee, student representation fee, student union fee, inclusive access fee(s), and materials fees. You may also qualify for additional transportation, technology, and textbook support!
  • Who qualifies: Students receiving the California College Promise Grant; OR are eligible for the Non-Resident Tuition Fee Waiver for Undocumented Students; OR those with documented financial need through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADAA).

*The Enrollment-Fee Waiver does not apply to international, non-resident, or out-of-state students. Please see the FAQ below for details.

Students reading textbooks

*The Enrollment-Fee Waiver does not apply to international, non-resident, or out-of-state students. However, undocumented students may qualify. Please see the FAQ below for details.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you live within San Mateo County and plan on earning a degree or certificate at one of our three colleges, you likely qualify!

If you are not a San Mateo County resident, you may still be eligible for the Promise Scholars Program. You may also qualify for other free services such as tutoring, transportation, health services, and groceries.

When applying for admissions, select an Educational Goal that indicates your intent to earn a degree or certificate. Current students can update their Educational Goal in WebSMART. To qualify for for the Enrollment-Fee Waiver, you will need to select one of the following options:

  • Obtain an associate degree and transfer to a 4-year institution
  • Obtain a 2-year associate degree without transfer
  • Earn a career technical certificate without transfer

Unfortunately, international students do not qualify. To see if you are eligible for other free services such as tutoring, transportation, health services, and groceries please contact your international student office.

Maybe. Certain out-of-state residents are eligible if their non-resident tuition has been waived under California Education Code.

Certain out-of-state residents may be eligible for the Promise Scholars Program and other free services such as tutoring, transportation, health services, and groceries.

For questions about residency information please visit the following websites:

Current high schools students already receive up to 11 units of their enrollment fees waived through the Concurrent Enrollment Program.

Yes. Undocumented students who live in San Mateo County AND plan on earning a degree or certificate who:

may qualify for the Free College Level 1 Enrollment-Fee Waiver and Level 2 benefits.

For additional support or questions, please contact your College Dream Center:

No, auditing courses is not covered under the Enrollment Fee Waiver.

There are two levels of qualification.

Level 1 - Qualification allows you to be exempted from paying enrollment fees ($46 a credit hour).

Level 2 - In addition to Level 1 benefits, you will also be exempted for paying the health fee, student body fee, student representation fee, student union fee, inclusive access fee(s), and materials fees. Materials Fees are those fees automatically charged to the student account when a student registers for a specific course. You may also qualify for additional support for transportation, technology and textbooks!

For new students, apply to one of SMCCCD's three colleges. If your address and residency checks out, the exemption is automatically applied to your student account once you register for classes.

For continuing students, just register for classes through WebSMART for the next semester, and if your address and educational goal checks out the exemption is automatically applied to your student account.

NOTE: Your Educational Goal can be updated in WebSMART prior to the start of the upcoming semester.

NOTE: There is no minimum number of units you need to register for in order to qualify for Level 1 support.

If you receive the California College Promise Grant (CCPG), you qualify!

You can also qualify based on your Student Aid Index (SAI) as determined by completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADAA) of less than 300% of the Student Aid Index (SAI) rates.

For additional support or questions, please contact your College Financial Aid Offices:

Students must first qualify for Level 2 to be considered for transportation support.

Level 2 qualifying students registered for 6 or more credits of in-person or hybrid coursework in the fall and/or spring semesters will receive a transportation support of $50 per month. Transportation support must be claimed during the month in which it is issued and will not roll over to subsequent months.

Fall: September-December; Spring: February-May.

Students must first qualify for Level 2 to be considered for technology support.

Level 2 qualifying students will receive a one-time, college bookstore credit of $500 to be used toward the purchase of approved educational technology.

Unused funds will continue to roll over to subsequent semesters and available to students as long as they continue to qualify for Level 2.

Students must first qualify for Level 2 to be considered for textbook support.

Level 2 qualifying students enrolled in 12 credits or more will receive a college bookstore credit of $150/fall semester; $150/spring semester; $100/summer session.

Level 2 qualifying students enrolled in at least 6 credits, but less than 12 credits will receive a college bookstore credit of $100/fall semester; $100/spring semester; $100/summer session.

Unused funds do not roll over to subsequent semesters and must be used during the term in which they are issued.

Other financial aid and incentives might be impacted based on your Student Aid Index (SAI), unmet need, and other factors. Please contact your College Financial Aid Offices for more information:

YES! Promise, EOPS and TRiO students can receive ADDITIONAL support offered by the programs for meeting the requirements specified by the program. See your program staff for more information.

There are two options to apply for CCPG:

Option 1

  1. U.S. Citizens and Permanent Legal Residents: Submit the FAFSA application to see if you are eligible for the fee waiver.
  2. AB540 Students: Submit a CA Dream Act Application.</a >
  3. If you have already submitted a  FAFSA</a > </strong > or  CA Dream Act application</a ></strong >, you do not need to apply for the CCPG on WebSMART</a >.  Submitting a FAFSA/Dream Act application</a ></strong > will override the CCPG application on WebSMART</strong >.

Option 2

  1. Apply for CCPG through WebSMART</a >.</strong >
  2. Your WebSMART</a > </strong > account will be updated with the CCPG eligibility within the next 24 hours.
  3. Check your WebSMART</a ></strong >  account to verify your eligibility and to see if any documents are required. 
  4. You have 21 days from the date you have submitted your application to submit any required documents to the financial aid office.

The Enrollment-Fee Waiver is in place through the Fall 2028 semester, at minimum. Offerings are subject to change.

For Level 1 (Enrollment Fees), there is no minimum number of units a student must register for in order to qualify.

For Level 2 (Additional fees & support), students must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credits for the semester to qualify for Level 2 support.

Yes, you can. Just contact the Cashier's Office and they can reverse the exemptions and you will be charged the full amount.

It depends on your personal situation. You will receive a 1098T in January of each year and any educational costs paid by you or by SMCCCD that are required to be listed by law will be indicated on the form. Consult a tax professional for more information.

©