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Free College Tuition? A few States Are Considering $0 for Community College Tuition

Theres nothing consumers like more than something free and a few states are considering offering free college tuition to attend a community college.

The proposed idea of free community college tuition fees is intended to be an incentive to get the younger generation interested in furthering their education.

Free College Tuition?

Supporters of a no-tuition policy see expanding access to community college as way to boost educational attainment so the emerging workforces in their states look good to employers.

Free community college

Oregon and Tennessee considering free community college tuition. Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

The plans of free college tuition won’t be free to taxpayers, of course, but legislators in Oregon and Tennessee are deciding whether free tuition regardless of family income is the best use of public money. A Mississippi bill passed the state House, but then failed in the Senate.

I think everybody agrees that with a high school education by itself, there is no path to the middle class,” said State Sen. Mark Hass, who is leading the no-tuition effort in Oregon. “There is only one path, and it leads to poverty. And poverty is very expensive.”

Haas believes that the taxpayers will ultimately benefit from free community college tuition he said, because it’s cheaper to send someone to community college than to have him or her in the social safety net.

A Gallup poll released in late February found 94 percent of Americans believe it’s somewhat or very important to have a degree beyond high school, yet only 23 percent of respondents said higher education is affordable to everyone who needs it.

In Tennessee, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam wants to use lottery money to create a free community college program for high school graduates. It’s central to the Republican’s goal of making the state more attractive to potential employers by increasing the percentage of Tennesseans with a college degree to 55 percent by 2025 from 32 percent now.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a bill March 11 ordering a state commission to examine whether free tuition is feasible. Among other things, the study will determine how much money the program will cost, whether the existing campus buildings can accommodate extra students and whether to limit free tuition to recent graduates.

California offered free community college tuition until the mid-1980’s, when a state fiscal crisis contributed to its demise.

The price of getting a college education has risen sharply because of reduced state support and higher costs for health care and other expenses. The average annual cost of tuition nationally is about $3,300, and books and fees add to the bill.

Free College Tuition? A few States Are Considering $0 for Community College Tuition.

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About Seth Barr

  • http://www.RiderBlog.NotLong.com/ Richard Rider

    It’s a VERY bad idea. California used to have “free” community colleges (CC). As a result, the schools had a LOT of uncommitted students with no “skin in the game.” Even now the CA CC tuition is the lowest in the nation.

    For three decades I’ve spoken as a political science department guest lecturer/debater in such schools. I always try to schedule my visits during the 1st 6 weeks of the semester. That’s because by the END of the semester, 25-30% of the students have dropped the class. When it was free, that figure was 40+%.

    The cost to the taxpayers for such pretend-students is huge — a complete waste of money. And then the CC’s complain that they are short of funds to teach to classes that (in the liberal arts departments) lose a bunch of students by the end of the term.

    BTW, in CA, over 30% of the CC students fill out a one-page unverified “hardship” form, claiming they can’t afford to pay any tuition. It’s ALWAYS approved without review. NO WAY 30% of the typical cc student body is poor, or even close to poor.