Will Community College be Free for Students with a 2.5 GPA?

On Jan. 8 President Barack Obama announced his ambition to make community college free for students with a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

According to a video posted on the White House website, the president said he wanted “community college accessible for everybody,” and that he wanted to make “the two first years of community college free for everyone willing to work for it.”

According to the same White House post, 9 million students across the United States can save up to $3,800 each if all 50 states implement the plan, known formally as America’s College Plan.

Dr. Herbert Gooch, professor of political science at California Lutheran University, said it is possible but not certain that Obama’s proposal to make community college free for students with a GPA of 2.5 or higher will come to life.

“Politically, the Democrats would like to make it an issue to gather younger voters and appeal to their teacher union base as we near the 2016 elections, and for those very reasons the Republicans, controlling Congress will resist,” Gooch said.

ACP comes with requirements to community colleges. They will have to provide classes that have transferable credits to four-year universities or provide occupational training programs with high graduation rates to jobs that are in great demand, according to the White House website.

Cal Lutheran junior Camelia Gharakhanloo said she is very positive regarding President Obama’s proposal.

“I think it sounds like a great idea. I think this will lead to more Americans pursuing education beyond high school,” Gharakhanloo said.

Gooch said the Republicans will say it is nothing more than an effort to extend high school, creating an entitlement program that will eventually lead to a free college education for all four years.

“The U.S. is one of the only major industrialized countries which does not offer this possibility to its citizens,” Gooch said.

Gooch said there are likely strategic reasons for why Obama waited so long before he proposed free community college to Americans.

“Probably has to do with political timing, looking at the 2016 presidential elections,” Gooch said.

He said he personally likes the idea but is worried about the funding and implantation.

“The U.S. needs to build up its educational and vocational training to compete globally. My fear is that it might generate into just adding a couple of extra years to high school,” Gooch said.

According to USA Today, “the free community college proposal is expected to face a number of obstacles that could deter its realization.”

According to the newspaper, “any legislation would require passage by a Congress controlled in both chambers by the Republican Party.”

Senior Jesus Villegas said he thinks for the majority of the population, free community college is a good option.

“There are a lot of adults out there in the work force that want to go back to school and learn more. They want to pursue higher jobs. But because of the tuition they are reluctant to go back,” Villegas said. “If community college is free, older people without degrees might consider going back to school and younger people with financial challenges will have opportunities they would not have had without this plan.”

 

Karl Kleppe
Freelance Writer
Published February 4th, 2015