Laney College’s 2022-23 Free College Initiative a Success in Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif., March 3, 2023 – Laney College, following its "Fall is Free" and "Spring is Free" campaigns to cover higher education costs for California students, is reporting an 18% increase in the number of students from a year ago, with 33% more African American students attending as well as a 21% jump in those identifying as Latinx.

Considered a revival for the College, the Spring is Free at Laney initiative is a continuation of Fall is Free, when enrollments saw a one-year increase of roughly 2000 students and an identical 33% increase in African American students and 22% by Hispanic/Latino students by semester’s end.

“This year has been a time to cast light on the realities of the cost of education. As of mid-February, roughly 2000 students came back to us last fall than the year before and 1555 this Spring,” said Laney President Rudy Besikof, who stresses the need for the public to be aware of student aid resources. “Spring is Free is not about paying people to be students or “Cash for College,” but rather putting students of all ages in a position to reach their school and career goals by meeting the true cost of college.”

Dr. Besikof also spoke to the increase in students applying for Financial Aid, saying “Our communities have responded. With 1900 more students applying this past Fall for aid through (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), our campus and community are together taking on the price of education for the benefit of our students, our community, and in the big picture, our workforce.”

Vice President of Student Services Marlon Hall agreed. “This is good for Laney, good for the Peralta Colleges, good for the city of Oakland, but most of all good for the students we serve.”

In Summer 2022, Laney College launched its free college efforts through Fall is Free, a program supporting students who apply for Financial Aid or – for undocumented students – those who submitted Dream Act paperwork. In addition to tuition, Laney pooled resources to cover textbooks, Chromebook laptops, Wi-Fi access, parking, and even food on campus.

The program is one that is educating more in Oakland’s ethnically diverse communities. The Fall semester saw the number of African American students at Laney increase by 1/3, with corresponding 22% and 8.5% increases in the number of Latinx and Asian/Pacific Islander students who attended in the Fall.

“We are excited about more students registering for classes, and with more than 80 classes starting in March, we anticipate even more students enrolling for Spring is Free. The only thing that will be better than seeing students enroll will be congratulating them when they graduate, as success is within everyone’s reach,” said President Besikof.

Laney College is situated in the heart of Oakland south of Oakland Chinatown and just west of downtown Oakland. It is a two-year college offering career programs as well as Employment Services that assist current students and graduates in finding jobs and internships. The college also offers two-year Degrees for Transfer in cooperation with Cal State partners.

Individuals wanting to know more about Laney, Spring is Free, and classes that begin March 13 and 20 should call 510-464-3540 or visit

Tags: Laney College


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