Invest in the future: support free community college

Shane Louis, Co-editor-in-cheif

President Barack Obama’s announcement of his tuition-free community college plan could provide great opportunity for students, schools and the country. 

The main question is where will that funding come from? The federal government would cover 3/4 of the cost, according to the White House fact sheet. And each state would be expected to cover the remaining quarter.

Taxpayers are shaking their heads at this point because they expect this proposal to increase their taxes. This may be true, but if students remain uneducated, how will this country ever move forward? This is a good investment.

Others may say that having an even playing field reduces the value of a degree. But free college does not necessarily mean easy college. Such legislation will merely open up opportunities for hard working students who struggle financially.

Under President Obama’s plan college may be more challenging because students would need to be on a two-year track to complete a degree. From the fact sheet: “Students who attend at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA while in college, and make steady progress toward completing their program will have their tuition eliminated.”

Students who would have milled around campus switching majors three or four times would be expected to get serious about their education and move towards a vocation.

This is a great thing for our country.

Another hope would be that communication between high schools, community colleges and four year colleges would be improved and would help students transition from one to the next. No student wants to have to retake a class they have already taken in high school.

This proposal could also help students who have to work one or more jobs in order to pay for school. Removing the burden of tuition costs could help these students focus on their education, and invest more time in their future.

“A full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year,” according to the White House fact sheet.

Anyone who values education should stand behind this proposal.

Just because you put yourself through college while working two jobs and eating Top Ramen for dinner does not mean all students should have to face the same adversity.

The concept is about to make it’s maiden voyage in Tennessee, where the “Tennessee Promise” will cover any remaining tuition costs after scholarships such as the Pell grant.

Chicago is set to launch it’s STAR scholarship program in fall of 2015. According to the City Colleges of Chicago website, Chicago public high school students who graduate with a 3.0 GPA or higher can receive this scholarship that covers full tuition, fees and books for three years or until the student completes an associates degree.

If this proposal doesn’t pass through Congress, we should hope that the idea evolves on the state level, following the ideas of Tennessee and Chicago.

It still remains the responsibility of the individual student to work hard and complete college. If students decide to drop out, they won’t get funding, and that was their choice, but our country needs the students who work hard; it is a responsibility to give them opportunities they never had before.