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Obama proposes free community college, but who really benefits?

(Business News) In a new proposal similar to an existing program in Tennessee, Obama has proposed footing the bill for some community college students, but who will pay for it, and who really benefits?

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obama community college

Free college, courtesy of the White House

President Obama unveiled a new proposal which would make community college accessible to students wishing to further their education. He asserts that our citizens should be able to get an education without taking on mountains of debt. The proposal is inspired by the Tennessee Promise, a program in which the state lottery and Pell Grants help pay for two years of tuition at a community college or technical school.

His proposal requires students to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA and mandates that community colleges offer academic courses that are fully transferable as well as in-demand occupational training programs. If these standards are met, the government will cover three quarters of the cost of community college and participating states will foot the rest of the bill.

Fox Business News makes a case against the proposal by asking their viewers if it’s the students or the community colleges benefiting here, suggesting that the college industry will profit the most. Student enrollment will go up, tuition hikes will follow, and who will benefit then? The panel also argued that on the one hand, students won’t work as hard if it’s free and on the other the degree gets devalued.


“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch,” laughs Heritage Foundation Chief Economist and Fox correspondent, Steve Moore, in reference to the often quoted Milton Friedman philosophy. He suggests taxpayer dollars will have to pay for this and the cost will be high. He says when you give more opportunities for students to pay for college, colleges turn around and raise tuition.
Fox Business News panelist, David Rehr, Professor at George Washington University agrees that colleges won’t become more affordable with this proposal.

He also believes it is good for students to “have some skin in the game” so they will feel responsible for the outcome of their educational choices in college. Dr. Rehr explains that similar legislation has been proposed before but he doesn’t believe it will get passed if Congress has any say.

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We want to make sure American workers have the training necessary to succeed in today’s economy. It makes sense for our country to provide the highest degree of education to our future workforce while also maintaining a healthy skepticism when it comes to the amount of taxpayer dollars being spent.


Written By

Emily Crews is a staff writer at The American Genius and holds a degree in English from Western Kentucky University. Reading, music, black coffee, and her two little girls rule her life. She sees herself one day running a tiny bookstore at the end of the Earth. In the meantime, she is thrilled to write for AG and also does copy editing (team Oxford comma) to keep her brain from turning to mush.

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