The Dream of Providing Higher Education for All

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Could you imagine a world where college was half price? A world with half of the student loans, half of scholarship essays and half of the amount of time spent pestering your parents for money? A world where those whose dreams of going to college, which have previously been crushed thanks to the unaffordability of colleges and universities today, could now come true? Well, one powerful man wants to make these dreams a reality. In President Obama’s latest State of the Union speech, he boldly proposed the idea of free community college. This plan, titled “America’s College Promise”, would make two years of college as free and universal as high school. These two years of higher education would save each student an average of $7,600 and benefit 9 million “responsible students” each year. Obama outlined that the students, the community colleges, and the federal government will all have to take part in the implementation of this plan. The students will have to maintain a 2.5 GPA throughout the progression of their program and the community colleges will be expected to offer either “academic programs that fully transfer credits to local public four-year colleges or universities” or occupational training programs that lead to degrees and certificates needed in today’s economy. The federal government will use federal funding to cover 75% of the average cost of community college, leaving state governments to contribute the remaining funds. By 2020, it is projected that 35% of United States’ job openings will require a bachelor’s degree and 30% will require some college or an associate’s degree. President Obama plans to be proactive and teach and train students now, so they are prepared when these positions are ready for them.

Obviously, with all governmental proposals, there is much opposition to the idea. The proposal is supposed to cost $80 billion over ten years, which is making many Republican Congress members grip their pockets. Also, many are concerned about the types of students who make the decision to enter community college. As of the beginning of 2015, only 41% of students who attend community college enrolled full- time. President Obama has yet to address the idea of allowing students to attend community college part-time and still reap the benefits of America’s College Promise.  Similarly, of all the students who either earn a low income independently or come from a low income family, only 30.6% of those who entered a two-year college in 2003 completed their program. Since the President’s proposal is aimed towards young adults coming from low income backgrounds, many feel that implementing America’s College Promise would be a waste, due to the fact that these students tend to not receive a college credential. Lastly, others feel that this money could be better used towards our country’s crumbling primary and secondary public education. They feel that if students are more properly prepared at a younger age, our economy might not require a college education for as many jobs.

Though we might not like to admit it, the United States has fallen behind in education rankings. Ranked 14th worldwide, the US sits behind countries such as South Korea, Denmark, Germany, the UK and Canada. And the cost of higher education in these countries correlates to these rankings. The average cost of higher education per year is $5,974 in Canada, $933 in Germany, and $530 in Denmark, while the United States tops the list at $19,344. Americans need to let these facts soak in and then quickly call their local Congressmen to demand more government spending towards education. This might make Republican Congress members grip their pockets even tighter, but we have to do even more than just offer free two-year college to today’s students. While America’s College Promise is on the right track, we have to strive to instill a love for learning into the lives of today’s youth and that encompasses revamping our primary and secondary education systems. Education is the key to an economy’s success and without the skills and knowledge to run a successful business, build infrastructure, and keep our citizens safe and healthy, America will not be able to grow. A surge to education across the country will lead to the stimulation of our economy due to the creation of new technology, new industries and new ideas.

While the thought of putting even more of our country’s budget towards education might be insanely idealist, President Obama (and a crew of some really smart folks) figured out how to make the dream of a college education a reality for many Americans. America’s College Promise will give those who never thought they had a chance, the ability to succeed, the will to learn and the potential make a valuable contribution to society. Hopefully, the newly Republican controlled Congress will be able to get past the ticket price and see the benefit of this program; without their blessing, the President’s proposal could just be another dream.


Alison AbramsAlison Abrams is currently pursuing her Bachelors of Science in Mathematical Sciences at Bentley University with a Liberal Studies Major in Ethics and Social Responsibility. Through her experience with interest groups and political campaigns and her volunteerism at various non-profits, Alison has developed a passion for political action and social justice. She is very excited that her internship with the Governmental and External Affairs department here at Wheelock has allowed her to research and discuss various policy issues.

 

 

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  1. Great job! Couldn’t agree more.

  2. Wonderful writing, Alison! Love your progressive POV.