President Obama Proposes Free Two-Year College Plan

1By Jennifer Hurtado

President Barack Obama caught the attention of America during his State of the Union speech on Jan. 20, 2015 in Washington D.C. when he proposed a free two-year college plan.

“That’s why I’m sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college to zero,” declared Obama, to an audience who responded with applause.

According to the president, 40 percent of college students decide to enroll in a local community college to lower the overall costs of higher education.

Currently at the College of Southern Nevada it would cost a full-time student approximately $2700 a year to take 24 credits or eight classes, according to the school’s tuition and fees. Although this is reasonable compared to other institutions in the state, it still can saddle the student with debt.

Obama’s plan would ensure students could receive two years of community college at no cost; thereby, reducing the overall intense debt of college education that many students carry.

Similar initiatives will begin fall 2015 in Tennessee and Chicago. The Tennessee Promise program and the Chicago Star Scholarship will cover all two-year college costs for students who are accepted. Students must be eligible to participate by meeting criteria: 3.0 GPA or higher, high-school degree and passed placement tests in college-level math and English. Eligible students are encouraged to apply fall of senior year in high school. When accepted, they receive mentors and must attend all team meetings including a mandatory college orientation.

Since his State of the Union address Obama has traveled state to state attempting to win approval of republican states including Indiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Overall democratic states were in favor.

One reason for this proposal is to increase the competitiveness of Americans in the global marketplace. Obama said this proposal fits with the demand of the changing workforce. “By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education: two in three,” as stated in the address.

James McCoy, associate vice president for academic success at CSN, said this is the perfect time for a proposal such as this.

“I was excited when he first announced his teaser a few days before the State of the Union speech, which is pretty timely on the cost of the recession recovery. I don’t see this happening soon but it’s a good political message because in 2009 he addressed the United States slipping in educational achievements and success,” McCoy added.

“By 2020 all jobs will require a certificate or some education,” McCoy noted. This plan could help many students in pursuit of higher educational goals for themselves but also for the nation.

Current CSN student Alan Hernandez believes it’s important to qualify to receive free funding for the first two years of college.

“The student should be a high-school graduate, have good grades and maintain a certain GPA in college courses overall,” Hernandez said. “This would help a lot of people due to the current circumstances of college affordability.”

Some professors at CSN approve of this proposal as well.

“I support the Obama administration’s proposal to offer free tuition for responsible community college students because too many students, including myself, have been saddled with student loans they can never hope to get out from under,” said Dr. Laura Powell, who teaches English at CSN.

She also thinks this proposal will help create positive effects in the long-run by having more educated people in the country.

Group of teenagers with teacher cheering in library

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