America’s College Compromise

-Tiffany Babb, Contributing Writer

President Barack Obama recently reintroduced a proposal that was first brought up by the Clinton administration. This proposal includes raising taxes for the wealthy in order to provide free community college education for both traditional and non-traditional students for the duration of two years. Students would be required to maintain a 2.5 GPA to remain enrolled in the program. However, unlike the Clinton proposal, students are required to have only part-time enrollment status and could attend certificate programs, which lead to associate degrees and can transfer to bachelor degrees. This proposal would not apply to students who already have other forms of financial aid, such as a Pell Grant. According to USA Today, if the plan were implemented and all 50 states participated, nearly nine million students would benefit from this program each year. Even though Obama did mention that the majority of the funding would come from wealthy tax increases, he also stated the particulars of the proposal would be discussed in the 2016 Budget.

“President Barack Obama’s proposal for free tuition is either a game changer or an empty promise,” said U.S. News & World Report reporter Kelsey Sheehy in an article last week. “It depends on who you ask.”

While there are supporters for this proposal, the majority of Congress and the general

populace are against it for several reasons. As with anything, the more available something is, the less value it retains. For example, fast food is cheap because it is found on almost every corner in America. The same applies to education. The reason college graduates make more money than non-graduates is because a degree is difficult to attain and therefore valuable. The easier a degree is to attain, the less value a degree will have and, in turn, earn graduates less money.

“Real median earnings have barely moved for college graduates since the mid-80s,” said economist Malcolm Harris. “Since 1979, the earnings of those with two-year degrees have decreased more than 20 percent.”

If this plan is implemented, it could have both negative and positive impacts on a school such as Mississippi College. MC would most likely see a decrease in the amount of first-time freshmen attending the university. This would create more difficulty for recruiters who would have to find more creative ways to encourage high school students to attend the university instead of taking advantage of a free associate’s degree. This would lead to less money flowing through the university, which would tighten MC’s budget and create a need for more donations or raise the price of tuition. However, many of the students who would complete this program would qualify for a bachelor’s degree, which they would need because of the decreased value of an associate’s degree. MC could potentially be a good choice for these students because, coming from smaller community colleges, they may be accustomed to the more one-on-one teaching that MC has to offer as opposed to the larger universities. Many careers require a bachelor’s degree or higher, so students in this program will need to go one step further. As MC is widely known for its quality of education and many of these students would be better able to afford continuing at MC after having saved so much on their first two years of education, the university would likely continue to flourish if such a program is implemented.

Do you think everyone should be able to go to community college for free? Tell us your opinion. Email the editor at Walker10@mc.edu and you might be featured in an upcoming issue!

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