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President Obama Proposes Free Community College for Students

President Obama promises free community college.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

January 13, 2015

President Obama Proposes Free Community College for Students
President Obama’s announcement aboard Air Force One last week seems a dream come true for students who hope to one day attend college. In a video teasing the President’s upcoming State of the Union on January 20, Obama highlighted his new proposal, America’s College Promise, to make community college accessible to anyone who wants to better themselves through a higher education. According to the White House blog, by 2020, 35% of job openings will require a bachelor’s degree while 30% will require at least an associate’s degree. With that, President Obama is proposing that the federal government pay for the first two years of community college for any American that’s willing to work for it. The free community college proposal, which could benefit about 9 million students each year, would pay an average of $3,800 in tuition per school year for each qualifying student. But like President Obama said, students have to work for it.

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In order to qualify, students must attend community college at least part-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA and show that they are working to complete their program. By doing so, students have the opportunity to either complete a degree or transfer to a four-year college or university. So how will this be funded? President Obama proposes that the federal government fund three-quarters of the average cost of community college while participating states contribute the remaining balance for eligible students.

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If the America’s College Promise proposal is passed, this could mean big college savings for students. For those that just need an Associate’s degree in order to pursue the career they wanted, the education would be completely free. Students who wanted to attend a community college for the first two years for their core classes and then transfer to a four-year college would save over $7,000 on their educational expenses. That’s huge. In addition to providing free community college for two years for eligible students, the America’s College Promise proposal will also seek to expand technical programs at community colleges across the country. Special funding will go to those schools that have work-based learning opportunities, provide accelerated training and accommodate students that work part-time. This initiative will help to produce a generation of employees who are adequately equipped to not only perform their job functions but to succeed. President Obama promises to speak more on the America’s College Promise proposal during the State of the Union address next Tuesday, January 20. Tune into Fastweb as well for more updates on the America’s College Promise as they become available.

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