Obama proposes free tuition for community college

Krishna Gopal, Editor

On Jan. 9 in Knoxville, TN, President Obama proposed a plan that would provide students with free community college tuition for two years.
In what he called America’s College Promise, Obama plans to cover an average of $3,800 in tuition per year for two years for those in the program. The plan will allow students to earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree or certain technical skills needed in the workforce. He estimated that the program will benefit approximately nine million students.
Obama asserted that everyone will have to contribute for this program to work. Students would be required to maintain a 2.5 GPA, attend college at least half time, and progress towards completing the program. Community colleges must provide programs that can be transferred to local four-year colleges and universities so that students can earn half the credits for a four-year degree or must provide certifiable training programs for occupations. While the federal government plans on contributing three-fourths of the price, participating states will have to make up for the rest.
Brookfield Central history teacher, Mr. Craig Keir, supports the opportunities that America’s College Promise could offer students.
“It’s great that they’re making college more accessible to students,” Keir said. He believes that a tuition-free college option will allow more students to attend college who were otherwise unable too. “A lot of students go to four-year colleges, who really don’t need to,” said Keir. He believes that many of the students who attend four-year universities could benefit from a less expensive two-year education.
College-bound Neema Mbele (15’) believes the policy could benefit many students.
“I think [America’s College Promise] is a great idea because it gives people who are not able to afford college an opportunity to attend,” Mbele said. “However, many students may take advantage of the system.”
Mbele fears students given a “free ride” through college may not put as much effort into their education as those who pay for their tuition. The plan will cost about 60 billion dollars over a period of 10 years and is still to be voted on by Congress.