Community College for Free?
On Jan. 8, President Barack Obama, while aboard Air Force One, announced through a video that he wishes to invest further into young Americans educational paths by making community college free.
Obama’s community college plan, also known as the Promise Plan, would cost a reported $60 billion over 10 years, with 75 percent funding coming from the federal level, and the remaining 25 percent from the individual states, according to The New York Post. However, details regarding how this program will be funded is still a gray area.
The community college plan would require students to maintain a 2.5 GPA throughout, and stay on a two-year track to graduate.
“In the coming years, jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience. We will not fill those jobs – or keep those jobs on our shores – without the training offered by community colleges,” Obama said.
He outlined two major goals for the country by the year 2020 in relation to his community college plan and higher education: one – the U.S. regaining the highest proportion of college graduates in the world; two – have community colleges produce an additional five million graduates.
Lewis and Clark Community College has an enrollment currently more than 4,000 on campus students. With Obama’s plan students would average a savings of $3,800 from tuition costs each year.
“I believe it’s a good idea. Even though community college is a less expensive option, that doesn’t mean everyone can still afford it. I think everyone deserves to further their education, but nothing is truly free so I’m curious to see how this program would be paid for,” Business major, Kolton Beasley said.
More than six million students are enrolled in community colleges nationwide, according to www.whitehouse.gov. Institutions like L&C anticipate a growth in enrollment if President Obama’s plan can be signed into law.
“We support the basic idea of President Obama’s America’s College Promise Plan because it would increase access and success for community college students not just in our district, but across the country,”L&C President Dale Chapman said. “The idea that students, who wouldn’t normally have access to higher education, now have the opportunity to come to a community college and learn a skill and/or earn a degree will bolster the local workforce, and positively impact the economy.”
The Promise Plan is striking a debate on both side of the aisle, conservatives see pitfalls within the plan, while liberals see it as a chance to grow the country’s education and economy.
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