President Barack Obama proposed a free community college plan during his State of the Union address this past month, which would give free community college education to any student who enrolls at least part-time and maintains a 2.5 GPA.

Obama’s proposal is aiming to restore the middle class. More employers are now looking for more information-based education, rather than skill-based. To secure these higher, more successful positions, Obama claims higher education is key.

“If this was enacted, it would take away some of the barriers for enrolled and prospective students,” Clinton Community College Director of Admissions Lauren Currie said.

She reported more than 80 percent of all enrolled students at CCC receive some form of financial aid.

Pell and TAP grants are what cover a large portion of tuition for low-income students. If this proposal were to be enacted, community college may become more appealing to those students who aren’t eligible for those grants.

“It might be attracting other populations that community colleges haven’t before,” PSUC Director of Student Financial Services Todd Moravec said. “Those students who are going to online colleges, for-profit colleges — they may decide that they want to go down to a community college since they can do it for free.”

With Obama’s proposal, everyone will be required to “do their part.”

Students need to “take responsibility for their education” by maintaining the required GPA until graduation. The community colleges are being asked to invest more into their students and the programs and services they offer.

However, since Congress is mostly Republican, it is unlikely that the bill will pass, according to Moravec. If it does, he claims the changes that occur at PSUC will be minimal.

The changes at CCC would be much more drastic, such as class size, number of professors, and classes and programs available would all be in conjunction with higher enrollment.

“Our students are very diverse, and we offer something for everyone,” Currie said. “We hope this will energize students and give them more resources to pursue college to find a better career and benefit their lives.”

Junior public relations and journalism major Amy Sheldon said if she had gone to her community college, she would have been able to get many of her core classes done for free.

“I think it would be a positive thing for students to get those first two years for free,” she said.

It has been estimated that over the next 10 years, the cost will be about $60 billion dollars of this proposal. The tax reform plan would raise taxes on the wealthy and “consolidate higher education tax benefits.”

Moravec said the administration was planning to take away the tax benefits from some college savings plans. However, that was shot down by Congress.

“I think, in general, it’s a good idea. I like how they are trying to emphasize funding for higher education,” Moravec said.

Both Currie and Sheldon agreed Obama’s proposal has good intentions and that they like seeing an emphasis on funding toward education.

Sheldon also said, given her junior status, she is already thinking about post-graduation loans.

“It would be nice to cut that in half,” she said. “But a state school is such a great option, and I’ve had such a great time during my time here.”

Email Lisa Scivolette at lisa.scivolette@cardinalpointsonline.com

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