Putting higher education within reach

Obama’s free community college proposal is as beneficial as it sounds.

By Sara Almalla, Staff Writer

Obama’s term is coming to an end, but he will not be leaving the office without one last ambitious initiative: free community college for students all over the country. As it should be.

COLLEGE DEBT - The reality of the students' struggle to afford a college education.Sara Almalla / Staff

COLLEGE DEBT – The reality of the students’ struggle to afford a college education.

Although the viability of his proposal, “America’s College Promise,” was met with concern and suspicion by many people, most college students embraced his plan with open arms.

“So long as it doesn’t hurt the average person and the economy, it’s a great idea! He is about six years too late, though; I would have loved that when I was 18 and beginning college,” said Ibrahim Elzein, marketing major.

Those opposed to this proposal lack the knowledge of the long-term economic benefit that this investment will return. Although it may seem to be an excessive government expenditure (60 billion dollars over 10 years), the payoff will be substantial. It would reduce unemployment and increase the GDP (gross domestic product) according to the U.S. department of education.

Aside from an economic point of view, it has been estimated by the Apollo Research Institute that approximately two-thirds of college dropouts occur because students can no longer afford to pay their tuitions. With the implementation of the president’s proposal, no hardworking students will be forced to drop out.

In Obama’s speech, he discussed the future in the work force, stating that by the end of the decade, “two in three job openings will require some higher education.” Yet, too many Americans cannot afford to get one. As of right now, 59 percent of U.S. jobs require some type of post-secondary education, according to Georgetown University.

College tuition has increased drastically in the past several decades, so it’s no surprise that fewer and fewer students are attending college each year.

Free tuition sounds almost too good to be true, and it definitely will not be available to everyone. According to the administration, only students who attend their college at least half the time, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and actively work towards transferring, will be eligible.

“Put simply, what I’d like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it,” said Obama in a video message released by the White House.

During his speech, Obama referred to the Tennessee Promise program, which, much as his own proposal, offers free college tuition to high school graduates if they can enroll as full time students and maintain a 2.0 GPA. Having these opportunities available to any high school student not only relieves the stress created by financial issues, but generates higher expectations for these students to achieve a post-secondary education.

ACP, however, will benefit students of all ages—not just recent high school graduates.

As Obama stated, “Some are young and starting out, some are older and looking for a better job, some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market.”

And it is never easy. Having access to a real education should not end at high school when attaining a stable job requires more than that.

Admittedly, free college tuition does not mean better-quality education, but it is one step closer to the college experience that fulfills America’s promise.

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