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Free Community College

January 10, 2015 Leave a comment

President Obama is proposing to make the first two years of community college free. Sounds good doesn’t it? This would be very helpful to prospective students. It would be a boom for community colleges and quite damaging to universities. Is this a really good idea? I don’t the entire plan for the pres hasn’t provided the details to my knowledge, and I am relying on the media.

Here is the propose deal as I have read. You can get two years of free community college. You need to be half-time to qualify and maintain a lowly gpa of 2.50. There is also something about making steady progress towards completing the program. Our ever intrusive federal government would kick in 3/4 of the cost while our states are expected to fire in 1/4. There are to be grants for those going into technical fields.

Right off the bat I have some issues. Why should we set the standard so low? Why not have the students maintain a 3.00 gpa? You’ll quickly discover who is serious. Shoot, I could go to a community college and maintain a 2.50 and learn little. If President Obama wants these people to work for this free education then make them accountable for the education. I go even further, no sports or extracurricular activities. I do not support a athletic education even though I am likely contributing to it with my son’s education. No, he is contributing. I would even support a graduated tuition rate. If the student is 4.00 then free. As the gpa goes down take some free money away. A downside is the community college will likely lessen the education system to provide 4.00 for all. Schools have ways of scamming us out of money.

What is considered to be steady progress? This needs to be defined. I know of plenty college students that change direction in their first two years. Many of my son’s college friends have gone from engineering to business because engineering required them to work with their brain. This is where the 3.00 helps out. As long as they have a strong gpa, there is no issue with progress.

Do we think states are going to go and kick in 1/4 of the cost? Show me a state with financial issues, and I’ll show you a state that will balk. Okay, a Democratic state will likely have less of an issue. Running in the red for them means higher taxes. In reality, the cost all comes from the same group of people – the taxpayer. If you are cash strapped, you’ll suffer. The cost of this program is not cheap especially if everybody and their brother goes into this program. There is a way to deter students, which we should. I’ll talk more about this down the road. As for grants, I say throw the grants to technical schools. These schools train students in a field that is more like a guild. (Sorry, I went blank on this sentence and couldn’t finish it properly.) Not all community colleges have the same tuition. Will our federal government mandate they charge the same? They cannot. I am sure a community college in the middle of nowhere costs less than the community college near the urban regions. Another point to make, what will keep the community college from raising their tuition? Again, a mandate on tuition could hurt the school if there is a legitimate need to raise the cost. If the government monitors the schools, then we have a major leak with the cost of this program going to the feds who love to hire people and still make poor decisions. To throw more onto this cost issue, I am sure they will change the free to if you can afford college you don’t get the “free”.

Do all prospective students need to go to a community college? The answer is an emphatic NO! We have this misguided idea that a college education is for everyone. The reality is far from this. Years ago, I met a young man, 18, on the assembly line at a manufacturing job. He was smart but had no interest in furthering his education. He just wanted to work and collect his paycheck. College for him was worthless. I have met many people like that. To them, education was more of a hassle. They don’t care if they never own the large house, go to Europe for vacation or even own a Mercedes. They want a simple life and a job. Why should we encourage these people to go to a community college? There are quite a number of people like this. Sending these people to school is a waste of money. There are also those that will not take it seriously, but not maintaining a 3.00 knocks them out. You just lose on a first semester tuition.

Losing the first two years of students hurts many higher learning institutions. I would expect some to go under. Others with branch campuses like a community college would suffer as well. Will our Federal government helped these branch campuses out even though they are tied to a major university? We could see a backlash where major universities will not accept the credits from community colleges. We have that now, but it could be worse.

I have only touched on a few of the issues I see. Before our government can implement this, the issues need addressed and the politics of it removed. This on the surface is not a bad idea, but seldom do we go deep enough to see the consequences. Too often, idea like this are the worst decisions for they make matters worse. We should not see this program implemented within four years if it is even implemented provided their is proper study. Honestly, I am not confident that this will work out. It will be politicized and little effort placed in looking at the consequences. It will become a economic issue dealing with what families make in salary. If this free education happens, my youngest would take it, but I can almost guarantee we won’t qualify.

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