by Robert Enyeart
Many of you may have recently heard President Obama’s announcement that could have an effect on all current and future college students who attend community college. In an announcement made on board Air Force One, the President simply stated that he will propose legislation that will make community college free for anyone who is willing to work for it.
Under the proposal, students would be able to earn the first two years of their education, or technical training to enter the work force, at no cost.
There is a catch, however. Students must maintain a minimum of a 2.5 GPA and make steady progress toward completing their program. Community colleges will have to offer programs that are either 1) academic programs that fulfill transfer credits earned towards public four-year institutions, or 2) occupational training programs with high graduation rates that also lead to in-demand degrees and certificates. Community colleges must also adopt reforms that improve student outcomes. The kicker is that the federal government will have to cover 75% of theaverage cost of community college, with the states picking up the remaining tab to eliminate tuition for eligible students.
Taking the Presidents proposal at face value, it sounds great. Who doesn’t want access to free community college? The progress and GPA requirements aren’t all that bad either. Shoot, if I weren’t already a community college student, I’d say “Sign me up!” right now. Until more details of the proposal become available, I would definitely support the agenda; I’d support anything that makes access to higher education easier for individuals. Unfortunately, we do not know what the costs or unintended consequences of this program will be.
(In Part 2, I will cover California’s current higher education system focusing on the inception of the community college system, and how it has evolved over the years)
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