Posted by: JanF | January 9, 2015

“Thanks, President Obama!” #FreeCommunityCollege

From the White House: The President Proposes to Make Community College Free for Responsible Students for 2 Years

Today, the President unveiled a new proposal: Make two years of community college free for responsible students across America.

In our growing global economy, Americans need to have more knowledge and more skills to compete — by 2020, an estimated 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree, and 30 percent will require some college or an associate’s degree. Students should be able to get the knowledge and the skills they need without taking on decades’ worth of student debt.

This is a win-win for the economy and for the next generation. Cash-strapped states (many of which strapped themselves to tax-cut fever which is burning up their seed corn) are cutting back on their funding of higher education. A recent story in NPR reported that tuition now outweighs state aid as the major source of revenue for public colleges. Tuition that is paid for by student loan debt and parent loan debt … or the high cost of which has made it impossible for low-income students to afford college.

Why is a college education important? This:

According to new data, based on an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute, Americans with four-year college degrees are not only equipped for a fulfilling adult and professional life but made 98 percent more an hour on average than those without a degree. And, the wage gap is only increasing, up from 89 percent five years ago, 85 percent a decade earlier, and 64 percent in the early 1980s.

College graduates are also more likely to be employed full-time than their less-educated counterparts, and are less likely to be unemployed, 4 percent versus 12 percent, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

From the White House blog …

The numbers:

If all 50 states choose to implement the President’s new community college proposal, it could:

– Save a full-time community college student $3,800 in tuition per year on average
– Benefit roughly 9 million students each year

Under President Obama’s new proposal, students would be able to earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree, or earn the technical skills needed in the workforce — all at no cost to them

The requirements:

– What students have to do: Students must attend community college at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and make steady progress toward completing their program.
– What community colleges have to do: Community colleges will be expected to offer programs that are either 1) academic programs that fully transfer credits to local public four-year colleges and universities, or 2) occupational training programs with high graduation rates and lead to in-demand degrees and certificates. Community colleges must also adopt promising and evidence-based institutional reforms to improve student outcomes.
– What the federal government has to do: Federal funding will cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college. Participating states will be expected to contribute the remaining funds necessary to eliminate the tuition for eligible students.

Let’s get it done.

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