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Obamas Free College Proposal Raises Questions

Obamas Free College Proposal Raises Questions
Ben Archer

Sure, anything Obama proposes is going to have detractors across the aisle politically. Perhaps due in part to his recent and seemingly more and more frequent use of executive action or just plain old typical partisanship, our president can scarcely do anything these days without intense scrutiny. Naturally, among the chief concerns of Obama’s opponents on the matter is the increase in taxes that would be necessitated by such action. But let’s discuss the other aspect of offering "free" college for all first.

Some people (perhaps none more than those who had to work before, during and/or after attending college to pay for the education and experience they received) may feel as though it would be beneficial for anybody who attends college, community or otherwise, to have some "skin in the game". Certainly, there is a certain psychological aspect to consider; the potential subconscious assignment of value to things that are "free" vs. the ones for which one has worked and saved to attain, isn’t there? Definitely a point worth discussing and possible consideration when discussing the cost of college. Naturally, not all prospective beneficiaries of the "free college" plan would respond in the same way. Certainly, there are many who would take full advantage of such a program and benefit greatly from the opportunity, but would they comprise a large enough portion of the qualifying applicants to the program for it to be viable and sustainable?

Of course, there is also the debate about funding of such a plan. We all know that there is no "free" college or anything else in this world, so who ends up paying for the college education that the students in question would receive through such a plan? Should the taxpayers at large, whether they have kids or not, have already paid for their children to attend college, etc. be required to pay for other people and their children to attend college? Is this the only or, more importantly, the best solution to the problem of the rising cost of post-secondary education? Does anybody have a better idea?

Of course, at first glance, the idea of providing everyone with the opportunity for a free post-secondary education is very appealing to those who can't afford college. This would be, at the very least, a "leg-up" for those who don't have the money to pay for college; a chance to prove to themselves and perhaps to a school to which they might later transfer, that they possess the dedication and aptitude to earn a degree. But with the country still in tremendous debt and many college grads being forced to take jobs that don't require a college degree at all, is this a practical solution? Would students who were not paying take the opportunity for granted due to the lack of having invested any of their own money in the endeavor? Is this a solution that will actually accomplish the goal of providing education to those who need but cannot afford it? There are still many questions yet to be answered and, as always, we would love to offer our comments section for you to annotate and contribute to this debate.

So, what do you think? Should community college be free? Do you think students will do as well in such a situation as they would if they were required to pay tuition? How would you propose supporting such a program? C'mon, speak up and tell us your thoughts!

Comments (17)
Frankie R 3/13/2015
Of course it sounds great, but personally as someone who attends a private institution, it makes me believe that all of the work I have put in to get there can just be attained by anyone. In society there are doctors, lawyers, teachers, and others. Not everyone can be a doctor, lawyer or teacher; and proposing a free community college would allow more people whether they have work toward it or not to think that they should attend college, and that is not possible. A lot of tax payers' money would be wasted.
Anonymous 2/18/2015
Sure it would be nice to have free community college, but we must all consider one thing, how will this affect everyone else? What if taxes start going up? Our parents will, technically, still be paying for college which leads to a never ending cycle. In the end, everyone will still end up with less money for their family. -Sabrina M.
Anonymous 2/17/2015
I think Community College should be free because there is people out there who are only there for programs for a couple of years and college is very expensive. Also many people who go to community college can not really afford it. So it may get harder to get in to Community College because everyone wants to go to college for free. I mean, who doesnt? So I think Obama is taking this the right path. If community college is free, there will jobs for people with an AA degree than those who only have a high school diploma and willing to go to college. This will fix many problems and have low income families survive by taking less money out. The financial aid system will get easier too and less stress for students who have to follow deadlines. Overall I think a free education will equal to a better success. Some students who pay for tuition do not do that well and never take advantage of their education. So this is a thumbs up to free community college. - Elena C.
Anonymous 2/10/2015
No, I do not think this " free college" concept works for me. For one, college is not for everyone, and when it is offered for "free," there is no value connected to that. The people who've really strived for a better education have worked hard for strong grades in school, tapped the various resources that are available in this country, and achieved the scholarships or grants to get them there. A good post-secondary education is available for those who truly want it and WORK FOR IT.<br /> Secondly, WHO is paying for this? Don't we as taxpayers have enough debt already ? I think "free" college should be merited to certain deserving individuals on a case-by-case basis, and not simply granted to everyone in a blanketed "free-for-all" gesture.<br />SK
Anonymous 2/10/2015
I think that this is a great idea and opportunity for kids such as me because I have neither one of my parents so I am desiring to go to college to better my life but without the stability of my finances my dream may never come true. I messed up a lot of the days in my high school years but in return I started waking up at three thirty every morning and arriving at my school at six thirty making up the work I missed. Due to the lack of my parents in the home I also had to miss fifteen days of school because I had to work to feed myself as well as my siblings and I lived in a home without lights and water and then I slept in a car for three weeks and now I finally am waiting to go to college to give my younger siblings hope and show them that we can make it out here without our parents. Living in our society makes it hard for students like me who have no one to support or help pay for there college education. My dream is to get into college and when I do finally get into a college I will smile so hard because I truly deserve it.I am a "dream deferred" desperately waiting for someone to believe in me finally for once.
Tienne S 1/21/2015
I think it's a good idea. Sure, you have to consider that some students will take advantage of it but you also have to consider that some students just can't afford even community college. For example, me or my boyfriend. We are very worried about even being able to get into a community college. We don't have amazing grades, we plan on applying for scholarships when the time comes but we know that on our own, we won't be able to afford anything. The chance at those two years of college not only gives us some college education that we need but could also get us into a bigger college later. I would love that chance. As for supporting it, maybe require that students have certain grades or something along those lines to keep them in check and if they can't do that then they can't continue with the free college. But that's just my opinion on the matter.
David B 1/21/2015
Sounds nice, but if I'm not paying for it, who is? The money must come from somewhere, and if not from me, then where? Taxes? That means that everyone is paying for a sevice they don't benefit from, and I will be paying for it too... for the rest of my life.
Anonymous 1/21/2015
There's already a government sponsored free college program. It's called the Post-911 GI Bill.
Brenden D 1/21/2015
Well, if the first two of community college should be free then what about two of years of university college should be free. Only fair. If that won't happen then I decline. As you know why yourself. Ridiculous.
lucas M 1/21/2015
Sounds about as good as "free" health care. I don't want to help pay for that either. I believe that my putting 3kids through college and myself, should preclude me from paying for others year over year. And just like free healthcare, there is no discount or benefit to me as our family doesn't qualify due to our moderate middle class income.
Jeffrey W 1/21/2015
I for one would be willing to pay a higher tax rate on everyday goods if I knew I was not only helping to fund my own education but also everyone else's around me in hopes to better our society as a whole.
Heather H 1/21/2015
Absolutely college should be free! If the government paid for free college for all four years, like many European countries do, it would actually cost our government less money then the method they are currently supporting. Would it work? Yes; all you have to do is follow the European model. They currently they have the most educated civilians in the world per capita. They must be doing something right. I know we are not.
Anthony Myers M 1/20/2015
I think this would be a great plan for low income students. People would benefit a lot in the long run if they're at least given a chance to get a college level education. From my experience at LBCC I've seen people struggle to make time for school due to their jobs. I've also seen students quit classes because they couldn't afford them. In doing so they lost all credit and units for those subjects. What's even worse is that they lost their chances to learn. I believe that free general education would be very beneficial, but it should be available for students that try hard in their studies. This should be granted to students who keep their GPAs over a 3.0.
Berny K 1/20/2015
I think it is a fantastic idea because it will provide equal opportunity for everybody! Spoiled college students who get everything paid for by their parents can decide not to take it serious. So free college would make no difference there, except for the fact that a subsequent loss would no longer fall on the parents. Therefore those who really want to go to college will seize the opportunity. There are too many people in this country who do not have access to college. this is supposed to be the land of equal opportunity. The well-being of everybody helps us all.
Kaylyn D 1/20/2015
I don't think it's a good idea at all. Since when is everybody entitled to FREE college. The reason people go to college is so we can get a leg up on other people who can't afford to go. It's America. We're made of people who have different opportunities and that's what makes our country work. I don't agree with free college at all.
Emmanuel R 1/20/2015
I would greatly benefit from such a program. Due to my family's lack of income, free community college would clear up a lot of the smog on the road ahead of me. It would ease the search for funding needed to make it to post-secondary education. I believe, for my, and my family's benefit, and those like me, community college should be free.
sarah c 1/20/2015
Being a member of society that can't afford college, I believe this would be an amazing opportunity. This would give many great and talented people a chance that can provide a better future for themselves and their families.
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