White House Proposes Free Community College For Dedicated Students

The cost of a college education has outpaced inflation for the last few decades, making school less affordable for millions of Americans and driving student loan debt past the $1 trillion mark. And in the last decade, the for-profit education industry has taken in many billions of dollars in federal student aid for schools with high dropout rates. Today, President Obama offered a suggestion: Free community college educations for those willing to stick to it.

The idea, explains the President, is to give students a leg-up toward a four-year college degree by allowing them to get their first two academic years for free at a community college. Additionally students in two-year occupational training programs may get their entire education funded.

The proposal would provide free education for community college students who are at least half-time students and who maintain a minimum 2.5 (out of a 4.0) grade point average while making progress toward the completion of their program.

The program would be available on an opt-in basis for each state. In those states that choose to participate, qualifying schools will receive federal funding equal to three-quarters of the average cost of community college for eligible students, with the state covering the remaining quarter.

To qualify for participation, a community college must offer either academic programs that “fully transfer credits to local public four-year colleges and universities,” or occupational training programs with high graduation rates that “lead to in-demand degrees and certificates.”

The White House believes that an average student included in this proposal would save around $3,800 a year in school expenses. If adopted by all 50 states, more than 9 million students could be affected.

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