President Obama’s free community college tuition proposal a ‘life changer’ for …

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

GRCC students weigh in on President Obama’s plan for free community college.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – President Barack Obama’s proposal for free community college was enticing Wednesday for students at Grand Rapids Community College, many of whom said they’ve taken on debt or extra work to cover the rising cost of their education.In President Obama’s State of the Union address, he proposed several initiatives, including a plan to make community college tuition-free to anyone who wants to enroll. Still, rising prices have hurt some students’ budget, either by forcing them to pick up more hours at work – leaving them with less time to study – or by taking on student loans to cover their expenses. A few students questioned who would cover its estimated price of $60 billion over 10 years, and GRCC President Steven Ender was skeptical of its chances of overcoming Republican opposition.

Others like IT major Anthony Hill feel a free education could attract less than motivated students, “I can just go to school for free and I don’t have to worry about getting dropped and loosing my funidng. He has long referred to community colleges as “the unsung heroes of American’s education system,” humble institutions that provide a gateway to good jobs for millions of people. She says Obama’s proposal is a great way to prepare people who can’t afford college for the future. “We are really pleased that our nation is now aware that we are the ticket to the middle class and that’s never been more important in our country than it is right now,” said Thornley.

The center’s director Tom Bailey says, “Free community college tuition on it’s own will not necessarily improve completion: even with low tuition many community students fail to earn a credential.” College administrators feel being able to train more local job seekers will compliment the ever expanding workforce in North Texas. Obama said he wants two years of college to become “as free and universal in America as high school is today,” but ensure that students don’t graduate with “a load of debt.” The proposal, which faces stiff resistance from the Republican-controlled Congress, would cover the cost of tuition for students who attend college at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA and “make steady progress toward completing their program,” according to the White House. Bill, the president warned that the United States has sharply fallen behind other nations in ensuring that its workers have the necessary skills for the 21st-century economy. “We need to up our game. They say community colleges are excellent in providing not just the academic side of the house, but also the technical programs that are putting people to work quickly.

We need to do more,” Obama said during his 59-minute speech. “By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education,” he said, adding, “too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need. However, he says students will have to meet certain requirement including maintaining a C plus grade point average. (©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. Sixty percent attended part-time; 17 percent were single parents; 12 percent had disabilities; and 36 percent were the first member of their family to attend college.

In 2013-2014, the average annual tuition at public community colleges was $3,260, as compared with $8,890 at four-year public colleges. “Access and affordability bring college within reach for more students, expanding minds and creating opportunities,” said Harvard University President Drew Faust before the speech. “I applaud efforts to expand access to community colleges.” Faust has traveled widely in speaking about the life-changing importance of a college education. “Civil rights activist Nannie Burroughs referred to education as ‘democracy’s life insurance.’ I agree,” Faust said. Under the White House’s proposal, the federal government would provide 75 percent of the tuition for qualified students to attend community college for two years, with participating states covering the remainder. Only those students who maintain at least a 2.5 grade-point average and make demonstrable progress toward a degree or certificate program completion would qualify for the tuition break. They emphasized learning and education and did everything they could to help support me in the absence of economic support because they didn’t have it,” she said. Hinde says it was there that she first discovered biological anthropology and earned credits that she later transferred to the University of Washington, where she completed her bachelor’s degree.

While she supports the overarching goal behind the plan, Bridget Terry Long, Ph.D. ’00, the Saris Professor of Education and Economics and the academic dean at Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), said she needs more information before deciding whether this particular program is likely to prove worthwhile. “In some respects, I think the devil is in the details, and my opinion will depend on ultimately what’s decided. This would take away the barrier and simplify things in a way that would increase access for them, most certainly,” she said. “One, do community colleges have the capacity to take on another large group of students?

We’ve seen during the last recession, as people became unemployed and they were looking for more skills, more and more people were going to the community colleges. Their faculty are already oversubscribed in terms of the courses that their teaching and services are trying to provide, so the question is whether or not they could handle this kind of potential expansion without additional resources, without additional faculty, without additional student supports, which would be really important to actually making the idea of educational attainment a reality,” Long said. “The other part of it is, for many community college students, the tuition — because it’s so cheap — isn’t really the primary cost.

It’s living expenses, it’s time off from work, it’s transportation, it’s basic living expenses,” she said. “And so while this is a wonderful step in the right direction for students, for low-income workers who are facing huge challenges, there are still additional costs they’d still have to incur.” “I think this policy is wonderful for the consumer side, in that it’s kind of streamlining and saying it is possible for you to further your education. But on the institution side, you need the investments to help people sort and figure out what to take that might have value and that might lead to some better job or career or further education,” said Long. “It’s going to take both; it’s absolutely going to take both.”

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