Free community college becomes hot topic for universities

Josh Dean

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President Obama proposed to make the first two years of community college tuition free last Tuesday in his State of the Union Address.

According to the Community College Research Center, only 22 percent of students graduate within three years, and 28 percent graduate within four.

Over 80 percent of students say they want a bachelor’s degree or higher, and yet only 20 percent of these students transfer to a four-year institution within five years.

Despite the statistics, Renee Duvall said she agrees with Obama’s plan.
“I believe that free access education beyond high school level is an outstanding idea,” said Duvall, a
senior political science major.

“Other countries have already proven that free college education promotes the general welfare on a number of levels including employment, battling poverty, and an increase in the general knowledge of people,” Duvall said.

Duvall knows people who attended community college first and then transferred to a four-year college.

She said it allowed them to work in a more “stable working environment.”

She also said Obama’s plan is important for people who want to continue their education.

“A free two year community college is necessary for many to receive any form of higher education,” Duvall said.

Sierra Lovell thinks Obama’s idea is “good,” but disagrees on how he plans to fund the program.

“I don’t think that college should just be free, but I think it should be altered. Tailored to the ones who need the financial aid, but could further help them than programs like TOPS, and such, that we already have,” said Lovell, a junior political science major.

Though Lovell disagrees, she still thinks it’s a great way to get people’s “feet wet” before moving on to a four-year college.

She said she’s confident that people will take advantage of Obama’s program.

Obama said it will help make the lives of college attendees who are troubled by debt a little easier after they graduate.

Students would have to meet certain requirements. They must attend school at least part time and maintain a GPA of at least a 2.5 or better.

The plan is intended to make improvements in the upper levels of education.

It would cover students who are continuing their education after high school, but also for those returning to school. Obama said, “Forty percent of our college students choose community college.”