Tag Archives: Community College

Oregon Passes Bill To Cover Community College Tuition For Eligible Residents

Oregon legislators passed a bill this week to cover the community college costs for qualifying state residents. Senate Bill 81, if signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown, would pay for Oregon students’ community college tuition remaining after receiving state or federal aid. Oregon would be the second state to offer such a program following Tennessee.

While described by some as a “free community college” program, there are requirements for applicants to qualify and there is a minimum payment that must be paid by students.

To be eligible, an applicant must be a recent high school graduate or equivalent who has lived Oregon for at least one year. An applicant must apply to community college no later than six months after graduation. The remainder of tuition costs will be covered only for students who first seek federal and state grants. Students are to pay $50 to the community college each term, and they must maintain a 2.5 or better grade point average.

State Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) said that each of the approximated 70,000 unemployed Oregon residents with no college degree between age 18 and 24 use an estimated $14,000 worth of various social services and aid each year. “A lifetime of food stamps is much more expensive than the annual community college tuition of $3,000,” Hass said in late May. Rep. Tobias Read, (D-Beaverton) made a similar statement, pointing out that “People who simply don’t have a lot of opportunities because of their lack of access [to post-secondary education] are costing this state money in social services and a lack of income taxes generated by their employment.”

Expenditures for the program have been capped at $10 million per year for the state’s two-year budget cycle. Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) supported the bill but expressed worry that the program may burden the state’s budget in the future. “I remain deeply concerned that once this bill and its escalating costs come into full effect, it simply is not going to be sustainable,” she said.

If signed into law, the program will begin in the 2016/17 school year.

CNN Anchor: “CNN Will Help” Shame Congress Into Action On Education

On Tuesday, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo declared to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the program New Day that CNN would assist Duncan in a “shame campaign” to persuade Congress to act on education during a discussion about community college:

Cuomo: Community college. The pushback on that issue is that one, we don’t know that college is even the right way to get into the job force anymore, and if you make it too easy for people to get into college, you wind up getting the wrong people go in who don’t want to work for it enough, and it’s all these other kids are struggling and they don’t qualify, the wrong kids qualify, those are the typical points of pushback. Your response?

Duncan: I fundamentally disagree that we again have to educate our way to a better economy. The days in which you could just graduate from high school and go get a high wage job that helps you progress into the middle class, it’s pretty hard to do that today. And to have young people have access to a community college whether 28-year-olds, whether they’re 38-year-olds, whether they’re 58-year-olds, coming back to retrain, retool- management jobs, high-tech jobs, jobs that relate to the health care area, advanced manufacturing. When I visit community colleges, and I’ve been to dozens around the country, those are some of the most inspiring visits I ever make. These are people across the spectrum coming back to school to gain the skills to enter the middle class. We need to support those efforts and support the partnerships between community colleges and local industry. Many community colleges today are becoming regional economic engines. They’re driving economic activity. Creating jobs in their communities. We have to support that. We want to keep great jobs in our communities and ultimately in our nation.

Cuomo: Secretary, my only advice for you is that you should go on a shame campaign with Congress to get them to act. New Day will help, CNN will help. We wish you good luck, Secretary Duncan. You’re going to have a lot of challenges in front of you, but the biggest one is to get Washington to do anything.

Duncan: I’ll take you up on that offer, thank you very much.

Obama Promotes “Free” Community College Plan That Would Cost $80 Billion

On Friday, President Obama introduced a new plan to make community college “free” for students in the United States. While alleviating the cost for students during their first two years, the federal government would pay $60 billion of Obama’s $80 billion program, and the states would be forced to come up with the remaining $20 billion, over the course of 10 years.

Obama made his announcement at the Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, while on a tour to promote some of the items he will present in his next State of the Union address, on January 20. Reuters noted that the upcoming address will be Obama’s “first to the U.S. Congress since Republicans won the Senate in November elections.”

During his speech in Knoxville, Obama said that due to the fact that he was “not running for office anymore,” he would just be presenting the facts.

I’m going to announce one of my most important State of the Union proposals, and that’s helping every American afford a higher education,” Obama said.

Calling the investment in education, America’s hallmark, and putting an emphasis on the importance of attending community college, Obama announced his plan to create “America’s College Promise.

Community colleges should be free for those willing to work for it,” said Obama. “Because in America, a quality education cannot be a privilege that is reserved for a few.

While Obama said that he wanted to make community college tuition “free” for students, the cost would then be transferred to other entities.

During a press conference on Friday, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz admitted that Obama’s plan is a “significant investment.”

Schultz explained that 75 percent of the cost, or $60 billion, would be paid by the federal government, over 10 years, while 25 percent would be paid by the states.

Given the interest in the cost, I wanted to let you know that it is going to be roughly $60 billion over 10 years,” said Schultz, who went on to say that the plan is one the President “believes is worthwhile,” and that there is “no better ticket to the middle class than a college education.”

According to RT, while Obama’s plan alleviates the cost of community college, which “averaged $3,347 in the 2014-2015 school year,” it does nothing to address the “skyrocketing cost of tuition at four-year universities, where many community college students transfer after one or two years,” which averaged $9,139 at public, and $31,231 at private colleges.

Obama announced the program in Tennessee, due to the fact that he hoped to model his own “College Promise” after a program the state already has in place called the “Tennessee Promise.”

Although Obama has the support of the Governor of Tennessee, Republican Bill Haslam, who created the state’s program, he has been met with criticism by other Tennessee lawmakers for trying to bring the program to the federal level.

Following Obama’s announcement about the plan, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, a Republican, said that he thought the program should be left at the state level. “You’re always better off letting states mimic each other,” said Corker.

Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen, a Democrat, and an architect of Tennessee’s HOPE college program, told the New York Times that Obama’s promise to make a program that will help the middle class, while modeling the current program in Tennessee, is flawed due to the fact that Tennessee’s program tends to help “more affluent and lower-achieving students,” instead of those with the “greatest financial need and the best chance of excelling academically.”

He shouldn’t be holding Tennessee Promise out as a model because it’s not a model,” said Cohen. “It’s a facade to cover up what is a dying system that hasn’t been funded.”