The Buzz About America’s College Promise

Expanding free access to college for students who meet requirements would benefit the nation’s economy and prepare for the workforce of the future.  Inspired by free tuition programs implemented by the state of Tennessee and the city of Chicago, President Obama unveiled “America’s College Promise,” a proposal which would provide two year free tuition to eligible students attending community colleges in course studies that lead to bachelor’s degrees or certifications in fields that are in high demand among employers.

There are significant hurdles in enacting such a proposal.  Federal and state funding will be needed to cover the cost of potentially 9 million students nationwide.  The federal government would cover 75% of the cost and participating states would cover 25%.   A forward thinking Congress, who can put aside party politics, to focus on what is needed to compete for the future is a major hurdle to overcome.  Congress would need to work together at the national and state levels to make it possible to move the national forward in education.

Despite the daunting hurdles the nation is buzzing about the need to improve the education system and benefits of providing 9 million high school and college students with the opportunity to get a head start towards acquiring their college degrees and preparing for the world of work.  This is an advantage to cities, states and employers seeking well educated students to fill complex, highly skilled jobs.

According to the Pew Research Center, 2014 National Survey of Latinos, education is extremely important and they see education as a “ticket to the middle class.”  The Pew Research Center also states that Latinos frequent community colleges because of their affordability.  As such relieving families and students from the initial expense of the first two years could further increase their chances of finishing with a coveted bachelor’s degree.

Hispanic youths have followed through with this belief. According to Excelencia in Education, Hispanics increased their college-going rate from 54% in 2002 to 70% in 2012 and “were more likely to enroll in community colleges than all other groups.”

This community college proposal would be a major shift in how our nation views education and prepares students for the complex jobs of the future.  Offering students the opportunity to attend and succeed in securing their degree is a monumental move towards a more competitive nation and a richer economy.





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