In his most recent State of the Union address on Jan. 8, President Barack Obama proposed to make the first two years of community college free for everyone who follows certain guidelines.
To be eligible for this proposal, the student must attend community college at least part time, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and show steady progress towards finishing their classes. Consequently, colleges would be expected to offer classes that transfer these credits to public four-year colleges, universities or occupational training programs.
With these opportunities available, more students can enter institutions that lead to in-demand degrees and certifications. In this plan, the federal government would cover three-quarters of the average cost, with the participating state contributing to the rest of the tuition.
A full-time community college student would save roughly $3,800 in tuition per year and the program would benefit about nine million students each year.
This proposal would make two years of community college “as free as high school for responsible students,” said White House Adviser Cecelia Munzo.
For many avid students, this proposal will make college an option they did not have before.
“I think this is a good proposal because it helps people who do not have enough money to go to college,” sophomore Isabella Dutra commented.
Social studies teacher Ms. Christine Aragon thinks similarly about the proposal. “Any opportunity for more education is beneficial for students,” Ms. Aragon commented.
Not everyone feels strongly in favor of the new proposal, however. Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal asked satirically, “Why stop there? Why not have the government buy a car and a house for everyone?”
Others argue that the federal government, if the act were passed, would be getting too involved in citizens’ lives. The proposal is not the President’s first time trying to reduce the cost of college. Though his attempts have not been highly successful so far, he has not given up.
Obama’s administration has helped to change the student loan system to cut out special fees charged by banks. They also raised the Pell Grant award maximum to $1,000, helping students from middle-class and poor families attend college.
Even though the cost of community college is immensely cheaper than a standard four-year college, it is still expensive. The average cost of a four-year college in Wyoming, the least populated state, is $4,646 and a community college is $2,719.
The cost of a community college is almost half that of a standard four-year college. This remains only merely a proposal at this stage, and Congress must approve it before any change will happen. It may therefore be years before there are any differences in the price of education.