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Obama’s “America’s College Promise” plan holds potential for students

By Monique R. Smith
On January 19, 2015

President Barack Obama has proposed a new federal legislation called “America’s College Promise.” This plan will make sure that more students attending community college will have the opportunity to receive funds for school.  

College students will now go to school without worrying about going into debt. This new federal plan will serve as an incentive for universal education.

This new federal plan for education will make sure two-year tuition at community colleges will be completely funded for three-quarters of the cost, meaning students would have the opportunity to attend college for free.

States would end up covering the remaining balance. Students would be required to attend classes at least as a part-time student. Students must also maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.5, which is considered roughly a C+ average.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, annual tuition at public community colleges was around $3,260, which was less than half the $8,890 average in-state tuition at public four-year institutions. 

If the plan is passed, this could affect more than nine million students across the U.S. After the shocking announcement on Jan. 9, this new legislation serves as an improvement that offsets the downward spiral in society's middle class and the poor scores that were produced out of our current educational system.

The good part about the “America’s College Promise” plan is that more people will have the opportunity to get jobs. In addition, it will become more appealing towards students that may not have thought about going to college because of concerns about financing their education.

Community college rates can increase.

“Tallahassee Community College puts people into jobs that impact North Florida’s economy,” said Al Moran, vice president of Communications and Marketing for Tallahassee Community College. “A free education can only help continue to open doors and provide clear pathways to individual success and community economic growth and development.

According to Moran, TCC was a worthy school to attend.

“TCC is one of the top producers of two-year associate and associate of science degrees in the United States,” Moran said. “We are also the top transfer college to Florida A&M and Florida State University. TCC also serves the Big Bend community by offering critical support for returning adult learners and targeted workforce training to enhance employees’ careers.”

The potential negative effects of the bill are a huge decline in retention rates for incoming college freshmen going straight into four-year universities right out of high school.

This could lead to institutions either changing their standards for incoming freshman, or finding other ways to accommodate the new influx of transfer students that will enroll into universities seeking to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

William E. Hudson Jr., vice- president for Student Affairs at Florida A&M University mentioned “America’s College Promise” is a great opportunity.

“America’s College Promise is a great opportunity for growth in education and skills-training,” Hudson said. “It will also decrease the amount of debt, provided students do not accept loans and spend wisely. It is also beneficial for students who may not meet the criteria to enroll at a four-year institution.  Students will have the opportunity to enroll in preparatory courses and prepare for the rigors of college academia.

“FAMU has been proactive in the collaborations with state and community colleges,” Hudson said. ”We have established articulation agreements and memorandums of understanding to encourage enrollment at FAMU by graduates from state and community colleges. FAMU understands the need to decrease student debt and will work in collaboration with the ‘America’s College Promise.’”

The most important factor in this legislation are the students. Imani Jones-Harper, a local Rickards High senior, said she has high expectations for the program.

"I wouldn’t mind participating in the ‘America’s College Promise’ program if it does get passed,” Jones-Harper said. “I feel like this would give me the chance to prepare for a four-year institution, and give me time to save more money to go on to pursue my bachelor’s and possibly my master’s degree.”

 The “America’s College Promise” plan gave students time to decide on whether or not they are fit to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution, while saving money without having to apply for loans. The proposed federal legislation was a wonderful idea that can help students achieve the education that they need in order to obtain a decent income and reduce student loan debt in the future.

 

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