Thousands of students showed up in Sacramento with a sea of signs and a united voice protesting cuts to higher education.
In San Jose, students boarded nine buses for the state capital on Monday morning. They are frustrated the funding for California's 112 community colleges was cut 8 percent this year.
"We don't deserve the cutbacks. We don't need the politics that's going on, we need an education," student Sheila Busey said.
Nearly three million students are enrolled at the community college level. Budget cuts mean fewer classes and for many, an education delayed.
"I actually had to push a lot of courses for my major back so I'm stuck here another year, possibly a fourth," community college student Kim Paniagua said.
Courses at community colleges are designed to be affordable. In California, it costs $26 a unit and students taking 12 units are considered full-time.
One proposal would hike that fee to $40 a unit.
"Right now I have a minimum wage job and with them raising the costs to $40 that adds up," student Nestor Vasquez said.
While many students acknowledge community college is a bargain, they point to California's high cost of living and even the price of books, which often exceeds the student fees. The price of a used economics book averages $100.
"Per semester, well I just spent $400 this semester maybe a little more, I haven't bought all my books yet, little behind," student Ben Rodriguez said.
Protesters say if California's economy is going to recover an educated workforce is essential and community college provides that path for millions.
"I'm just worried that if we get too expensive we're going to have a generation of people who are not going to be educated," student Ketzal Gomez said.
The rally will move on Tuesday from Sacramento to San Francisco and the UC Board of Regents.