Community college: free for all?


The public can view any new government program either as a scheme with empty promises or a beneficial proposition.  Recently,  President  Obama  proposed  a new  plan called America’s College Promise that has  sparked  copious  controversy throughout the nation.

In hopes of creating a more competitive job market, America’s College Promise will provide two free years of community college to nine million students who can maintain a 2.5 GPA. There have already been similar plans for free community college in Chicago and Tennessee for students who have just graduated high school and have a 3.0 GPA. However, Obama’s plan is more beneficial: it only requires students to go to school part-time so they can also work, and it is open to people of all ages. According to Evelyn Waiwaiole, director of the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, the average community college student is 28 years old, not 18 or 19 years old. As a result, by targeting people of all ages, Obama is giving a larger range of people an opportunity to get a higher education.

However, everything comes at a cost. Although Obama has only briefly previewed this plan and will discuss its budget next year, the Obama administration has estimated that it needs to collect $60 million in taxes over the next decade to sustain the program. The government wants to tax on special savings funds, also known as the 529 plans. These plans were initially created to help people save money to pay for their own or their children’s college tuitions.

This proposal’s execution is similar to that of another controversial program by the Obama administration – ObamaCare.  America’s College Promise also has good intentions and is meant to abate people’s financial issues, but it also has many complications that the government is failing to anticipate. This plan assumes innate human goodness in that people will not mind paying for others’ tuitions, when in reality, most people are concerned with their own financial burdens. These patterns amongst Obama’s plans show that the steps his administration takes are misguided, despite their good intentions.

Although this program will make people in the U.S. more competitive for jobs, it fails to provide a job market. With this new program, there will be more people certified for employment, but jobs are not necessarily guaranteed. Therefore, the government should try to first raise funds to create a bigger job market to employ people, and then raise funds to usher more competitive individuals into that job market.

“While feel-good legislations look good on paper, there is no such thing as a free lunch. I’m tired of the government robbing Peter to pay Paul. In an ever-increasing international job market, I feel that two years of college education on the backs of the taxpayer will not be enough to make a dent in our current job market situation. I would truly like to see the cost-and-benefit analysis before this goes any further,” Dave Hilger, History Department, said.