By Joselyne Pimentel ’16, Quetourah Dalencourt ’16, Chelsea Allamby ’16, Raquel Florez ’16, Ashe Collier ’16
President Barack Obama has recently introduced “America’s College Promise”, a proposal to make the first two years of community college free, during his sixth State of the Union Address on January 20.
“By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education. And yet, we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need,” said President Obama according to The Problem With Obama’s “Free Community College” Proposal by Judith Scott-Clayton and Thomas Bailey, Time.com.
This initiative could prove to be a much-needed stepping stone into higher education for the 51% of public school students nationwide who live in a low-income household, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in A New Majority Research Bulletin: Low Income Students Now a Majority in the Nation’s Public Schools, Southern Education Foundation.
The $60 billion ten-year proposal provides responsible, low-income students who can maintain a 2.5 GPA and make steady progress towards a degree, a free head start towards higher education.
Yes, Obama’s proposal does not explicitly provide schools with additional resources to fund student-success initiatives, but the hope is that by eliminating costs of tuition the average student who works 15-25 hours a week to pay for college could use those hours to strive towards success in courses instead.
“It’s great that some of us might finally be able to afford to go to college; we can start out at Kingsborough and rise up to better opportunities,” said Krisalee Hibbert ’16.
Instead of buzzing off the idea of community college, this proposal might also open the eyes of the 47% of hornets who may qualify. Although private four-year colleges may be appealing, your wallets may not agree. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Congratulations to the Class of 2014, Most Indebted Ever by Phil Izzo, the average college graduate is $33,000 in debt. On average the cost of tuition increases anywhere from 2.9-3.7% annually, figures that are much higher than the average inflation rate.
Now, fast-forward five years in the future. Following the trends of rising costs of tuition, a student of the graduating Class of 2020, current high school juniors, will leave with a diploma and nearly $40,000 in debt.
“I think it’ll help us start off not under tons of debt,” said Maya Miller ’16. “We can begin our lives outside of high school not worrying about tons of loans.”
Obama’s proposal may prove to be a beacon of light for a better and brighter future for the bright, young Americans with college just out of reach.