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Free community college


President Obama introduced his ambitious plan for free community college on January 9 during a speech he gave at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The community college plan is modeled after Tennessee’s Republican governor, explaining why Obama chose this state in which to introduce his plan. Even so, Tennessee Republicans are expressing doubts about the effort for free community college.

The White House estimated that the free community college program would cost “roughly $60 billion over 10 years”. If all states choose to participate in the program, an administration official said it could include about nine million students.

The offer of free tuition will extend to students that attend classes at least half time and maintain a grade point average of 2.5 or better, as long as the college offers credits that could transfer to a four-year college or provide training that leads to jobs. Another condition includes that the government pays for 75 percent of the costs, while states take up the remaining 25 percent.

Obama feels that attending community college should be almost equal to how much high school costs today. He said, “America thrived in the 20th century… because we made high school the norm. Eventually the world caught on and the world caught up and that’s why we have to lead the world in education again.”

Even though Obama wishes to lead other countries in education, many people are calling the plan flawed.

“There are so many unanswered questions. I mean, who is to say states and students are going to even take advantage of the program? If states have to pay the remaining quarter of the cost, why would they want to go along with it?” said junior Zack Volkmann.

Besides state and student participation concerns, the cost is also a concern. Individuals already think that the plan will not get through to the Republicans by any means. They also feel that a big government plan is not necessary to get more students involved in community college. Instead, state and local efforts are more appealing to the general public.

“It just seems crazy to me that states would want to pay for the rest of the program. They already have plenty of other things to spend money on. You know now that I am talking about money, how are colleges supposed to make any if they already give academic scholarships and sport scholarships as well? They would be losing money for the first two years, and that is not good. No one wants to lose money,” said senior Jonelle Allen.

However, Obama has said that his upcoming State of the Union address will discuss how the program will raise employment. He wants more participants in community college because it is “the surest ticket to the middle class”. Being a part of the middle class will help students be hired and will make sure they are always employable.

Do you think the plan will go through? How do you feel about the cost? Is Obama’s idea about the program raising employment accurate?

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