President Obama has unveiled a new proposal to offer two years of free community college to 'responsible students' across America.
According to figures from the Whitehouse, by 2020, an estimated 35% of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree, and 30% will require some college or an associate’s degree.
President Obama has said that he believes students should be able to get the knowledge and the skills they need without taking on decades’ worth of student debt.
According to the Whitehouse, if all 50 states choose to implement the President’s new free community college proposal, it would save a full-time community college student around $3,800 in tuition per year and benefit roughly 9 million students each year.
Under President Obama’s new proposal, students would be able to earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree, or earn the technical skills needed in the workforce all at no cost to them.
To qualify, students would need to attend community college at least part-time and maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA, and make steady progress toward completing their program.
Community colleges will be expected to offer programs that are either: academic programs that fully transfer credits to local public four-year colleges and universities; or occupational training programs with high graduation rates and lead to in-demand degrees and certificates.
Federal funding will cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college. Participating states will be expected to contribute the remaining funds necessary to eliminate the tuition for eligible students.
The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) enthusiastically welcomed President Obama’s offer free community college tuition for students in certain community college programs.
“AACC has been hard at work identifying the promising practices that our member institutions have implemented to increase student access and success. The president’s proposal certainly fits into that category,” said AACC President and CEO Dr. Walter G. Bumphus. “This is an exciting day for the nation’s community colleges.”
“College costs are a major concern for community college students. Though our sector provides the most affordable entry into higher education, our institutions also serve the neediest students. As they anticipated in Tennessee and Chicago, more students would see college as a viable option as a result of this initiative,” added Bumphus.
In addition to free commnunity college, the President has also proposed the new American Technical Training Fund, which will expand innovative, high-quality technical training programs across the country.
In December, the President announced that the Department of Labor is opening a competition to spur partnerships between employers, labor, training providers, and local governments to expand apprenticeships into high-growth fields like advanced manufacturing and healthcare and scale models that work.