Obama Proposes Free Community College Program


News out of the White House on Thursday is positive for college students as President Obama can be seen in a video announcing plans to make going to community college “free for everybody who is willing to work for it.” He goes on to say, “It’s something we can accomplish, and it’s something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world.”

Details of the potential plan are still fuzzy since the White House isn’t providing much information in regards to how much the program will cost, where the funding will come from or what it will take to get it off the ground, but more details are expected to come when the president gives his State of the Union address on January 20th.

According to the White House website, a program allowing students to attend a community college for free, could save those attending full time somewhere around $3,800 in tuition fees each year. The website also predicts that the proposal has the potential to help 9 million students in getting a jump start on a bachelor’s degree or complete a technical degree program.

Any student will be eligible for the program with few requirements and virtually nothing preventing them from becoming successful college students without the debt that often follows even a two year degree. The requirements are:

  • Students participating will be required to enroll as a part time or full time.
  • Must maintain a minimum of a 2.5 GPA.
  • Consistent progress must be made towards completion of a two year degree or technical training course.

Community colleges will only be eligible if they offer programs with ample credits that will be applicable when/if students wish to attend a four year college. Any technical training courses offered are required to have high graduation rates and must be geared towards career fields that are in demand as well.

In the video posted on the White House website, President Obama goes on to say, “I hope we’ve got the chance to make sure that Congress gets behind these kinds of efforts to make sure that even as we rebound and grow in 2015, that it benefits everybody and not just some.”

White House officials were quick to acknowledge that Congress would likely be resistant to the program and that there certainly would not be a “quick win”. They were still optimistic and felt it was a move by the president to get some positive juices flowing within community colleges that may incite changes made even before the government hashes out all the details.

Cecilia Munoz, domestic policy adviser to the president, had this to say about the proposal which she says has “bipartisan appeal”:

“This is a significant moment in our trajectory as a country, it is as significant as the moment we faced a century ago (referencing the development of high schools). We don’t expect the country to be transformed overnight, but we do expect this conversation to begin tomorrow.”

According to the Associated Press, the White House has cited the Tennessee Promise program and College to Careers as inspiration for the new proposal, both of which offer free community college.

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