Obama’s new initiative could make community college free

By: Sade Cox

President Barack Obama proposed making two years of community college free which would alleviate the cost of tuition and attract many more transfer students to public universities like Kean.

Under the proposal, the federal government would cover 75 percent of the average cost of a community college and then states would cover the difference. The White House says if all 50 states participate in the proposal, an estimated 9 million students will save an average $3,800 in tuition each year. This will benefit students by alleviating the burdens of paying for college and staying on track to transfer to a four-year university.

Community colleges provide education to almost half the United States’ undergraduate students, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. The average annual tuition at a community college is $3,200, and tuition at an in-state public university is $8,600, according to CollegeBoard.org.

Kean University has the lowest tuition rates in the state of New Jersey and an acceptance rate of 80 percent, according to Peterson.org’s college search. According to the Office of Institutional Research, there are 1,630 enrolled transfer students at Kean. Transfer students can apply to Kean at any time, but those who have graduated from a two-year college need a minimum GPA of 2.0, according to Kean’s Transfer Policy.

Obama delivered his sixth annual State of the Union Address to Congress and the American people on Jan. 20. In his address, he explained how his new initiative will help Americans from all walks of life.

“Forty percent of our college students choose community college,” said Obama. “Some are young and starting out; some are older and looking for a better job; some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market. Whoever you are, this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt.”

The plan will cost the federal government $60 billion over a 10 year period and provide free tuition to students who attend a community college at the maximum of two years and maintain a GPA of at least 2.5. The program would be available at community colleges with academic programs whose credits transfer to local public four-year universities.

Obama’s impetus for creating the program is to prepare Americans for a competitive world economy.

“What I’d like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for everybody who’s willing to work for it,” Obama said in a White House video posted Jan. 9. “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.”

Obama’s free community college program


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