Obama’s “America’s College Promise” Plan

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. President Obama has gone forth and proposed the 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.

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 9 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. A free education can only help continue to open doors and provide clear pathways to individual success and community economic growth and development,” said Al Moran, vice president of Communications and Marketing for Tallahassee Community College.

 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. 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,” Moran said.

 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., Ph.D., 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.  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,” Hudson said. “FAMU has been proactive in the collaborations with state and community colleges. We have established articulation agreements and memorandums of understanding to encourage enrollment at FAMU by graduates from state and community colleges. We also provide academic scholarships to students who receive Associate of Arts degrees from state and community colleges in Florida. FAMU understands the need to decrease student debt and will work in collaboration with the America’s College Promise.”

 The most important factor of this legislation are the students.

"I wouldn’t mind participating in the ‘America’s College Promise’ program if it does get passed. 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,” Imani Jones-Harper, local Rickards High senior said.

 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.