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  • What is happening to our President’s push for free community colleges?
  • Posted By:
  • Tom A.
  • Posted On:
  • 10-Jul-2015
  • Even though there has been a lot of talk about making colleges debt free by the aspiring successors from the Democratic party there is no indication of our President’s push for free community college being smothered or pushed aside. This in itself is a hugely positive sign.

    The very first state that followed through with President Obama’s plan was Tennessee closely followed recently by Oregon. Seeking to make our President’s proposal a reality, there was an introduction of bill by the Democrats in the House of Representatives and US Senate. However, there is no hope of the bills being passed as there obviously is no Republican support to this proposed legislation.

    There is interestingly a significant momentum in this direction as Governor Kate Brown of Oregon is all posed to sign the legislature recently passed to kick start the free community college concept. This legislation was proposed by Oregon Democratic state senator Mark Hass.

    To fill in the tuition gaps not covered by the federal and state aid, Oregon will spend $10 million a year. Towards expenses beside tuition such as books and transportation, a $1000 grant will be awarded to eligible students.

    Another welcome move by the state is that student completion and success programs will get a breather through another $7 million aid. This initiative definitely provides a huge funding boost for Oregon higher education.

    According to Hass, President Obama’s push to make community colleges free is indeed a visionary, bold idea that must be pursued. He opines that people between ages 18 and 24 without employment will be greatly helped by this plan to enter workforce.

    He also pointed out that by enhancing student financial aid applications through increased enrolment in community colleges, more federal aid could be directed to the state through this legislation. He also said that since Pell Grants has doubled under the Obama administration, this is a great opportunity for the state to take advantage of these dollars.

    Obviously, the White House wishes to revamp the image of community colleges and open up K-14 education to all with the help of public funding. This in turn will serve the increased demand for workers with an associate or certificate degree.

    Of course, this plan is criticized by many. Also called the America’s College Promise, the Obama Plan comes with strings related to money according to some. Some critics opine that this proposal does not have a clear cut indicators related to federal performance and improving student outcomes through evidence based institutional reforms.

    For the die-hard conservatives, this plan seems to be the platform that facilitates complete two-year sector federal takeover. Republican governor of Tennessee Bill Haslam says that as compared to the federal free community college plan, state programs are a better way to go. He is one of the people who played a crucial role in the Tennessee Promise creation.

    All said and done, results are fast emerging even as many community colleges across the country start announcing tuition-free plans. Some of the colleges kick starting this initiative include the Harper College, an Illinois based two-year institution and the Community College of Philadelphia.


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