Obama Proposes Free Community College

Obama Proposes Free Community College

On Friday, Obama traveled to Tennessee to propose a plan that was originally modeled after one designed by Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam. He proposed that the first 2 years of community college be free for all Americans willing to work hard, just as elementary and secondary schooling has long been universally free to students.

In today’s economy, a high school degree no longer guarantees a middle-class income, so Obama properly wants to upgrade the government’s interference in education to make two years of college, not just high school, something students receive at the public’s expense. 

So far, the plan doesn’t have an official price tag, other than “significant,” according to White House officials. If all 50 states participate, the proposal could benefit 9 million students each year and save students an average of $3,800 in tuition, the White House said. The proposed plan would educe community-college tuition costs to zero for all student in the U.S., which would cost the federal government $60 billion over 10 years, meaning higher taxes for U.S. citizens.

Under the new program, the federal government would chip in three-quarters of the costs, while states would cover the balance. The only thing that students must do on their part is attend classes at least half-time and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA, or roughly a C+ average. Meanwhile, community colleges would have to “strengthen their programs and increase the number of students who graduate,” according to a White House fact sheet.

Critics question its feasibility and its failure to address the real issue- that college nowadays is not making us smarter because our educational standards have greatly lowered. Tuition is a very large issue as well, with students graduating at an average of $33,000 in debt in 2014, but the first issue to address should be how good the education is that the colleges are providing since there are plenty of ways to learn a plethora of information at no cost to the taxpayers on the Internet. After all, a large number of college freshman read at a 7th grade level because of the Common Core standards that are not doing anything for the students enrolled in the public school system.

They also argue that community colleges, which educate nearly half of the nation’s 24 million college students, are already far more affordable than public four-year institutions. According to The Atlantic, the annual tuition at public community colleges is $3,260, less than half the $8,890 average in-state tuition at public four-year institutions. One Republican aid argued that Obama shouldn’t bring the government into a policy that begins with the states addressing it.

Others suggested that the plan would never make it through the Republican House and Senate, although Obama noted that his program was modeled after one designed by Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam.

Some liberals even joined in the criticism, saying that middle-income and wealthy community-college students can benefit from the program, even though they can potentially afford it, because it is not limited to low-income students. The Institute for College Access and Success called the proposal “a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” arguing that “making tuition free for all students regardless of their income is a missed opportunity to focus resources on the students who need aid the most.”

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