By Shanaya Day-Merkerson
To help Americans upgrade their skills, President Barack Obama proposed a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college to zero during his State of the Union speech Jan. 9, 2015.
“Americans thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free,” Obama said. “But in a 21st century that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to do more.”
According to Obama’s plan, to be eligible for free community college, students must attend classes at least half time and maintain a grade point average of 2.5 of better.
Free community college is a great start to a better economy. This plan will give Americans a chance to further their education and prepare for the changing economy without having to worry about paying back a load of debt.
The White House estimated the cost of the program to be roughly $60 billion over 10 years. This is a great investment that will not only benefit students, but the economy as well because the goal of this plan is to have a nation that is highly educated. More educated people will earn better-payingjobs.To decrease the unemployment rate, Obama said community colleges can partner with local industries to provide training for much needed positions.
“Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work to update our job training system, we’re connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, nursing and robotics,” Obama said. “I’m asking more businesses to offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships – opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education.”
I am grateful knowing that I may have the chance to continue my education for free.
I haven’t always been a model student. Earlier in my college career, I made mistakes that cost me a lot of time and money.
I worried about whether I would graduate on time, if I would graduate at all, and, more importantly, how I would pay for it when my financial aid runs out. I learned from my mistakes and I am still learning, not only as a student but as a young adult as well.
I’ve become passionate about my education and I am working harder than before to finish what I started. Obama’s plan relieves me of a lot of stress and gives me peace of mind knowing that I can still earn a degree and still be successful.
Other students agree with President Obama’s proposal. Jalil Wright, a computer science major, believes the plan will be beneficial, especially to those who lost hope on their education.
“A lot of people don’t have the money to continue their education so they work hard for damn near pennies to pay for it and eventually lose sight on their original goals for school,” Wright said. “If free education is provided to the masses, there is a better opportunity for the economy to thrive.”
According to The Pell Institute’s study of opportunity in higher education, the percentage of students from all income levels enrolling in college has increased within the last four decades. However, the college completion gap between the rich and the poor is widening. In 2013, individuals from high income families were eight times more likely to earn their degree by the age of 24 than those from low income families.
Obama’s plan will bridge the gap and give everyone a fair chance to complete college, regardless of their social class.
Dwayne Swann, an architectural engineering student, thinks that this is a good plan for students who are committed to their education. “If you’re really serious about school, it’s not hard to maintain a 2.5,” Swann said. “And for everyone whodidn’t finish college or is taking more time than usual to get a degree, they can now pursue a degree and get a higher education for free.”
According to the White House, if all states choose to participate, the offer of free tuition would extend to about 9 million students.
“I want to spread that idea all across America, so that two years of college become as free and universal in America as high school is today,” Obama said.
It is a great thing to finally see the U.S. government putting money into things we value such as a college education.
What do you think about Obama’s plan? Send a tweet to @Communitarian12 and share your thoughts.