Preston’s Political Point: White House Community College Proposal Will Create Headaches Not Solutions


Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS

President Barack Obama delivers the State of The Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20, in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol.

During the 2015 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama announced a plan to give access to community college tuition-free to students who can demonstrate academic progress, or show ability to transfer to a four-year university following completion of the associates degree plan.

In a perfect world, the plan would allow students to attend community colleges tuition-free, before moving on to complete their bachelor’s degree, which 80 percent of community college students want to do. But, this isn’t a perfect world. Only 15 percent of community college students transfer and complete a bachelor’s degree within a 6-year time frame, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

President Obama’s plan will simply cause a hole in the pocketbook of taxpayers, and the states that fund these community colleges. The students who actually need this plan won’t have a viable option to continue education at four-year universities due to the substantially higher cost of attending these universities.

According to College For All Texans, a website funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the average public four-year institution in the state of Texas costs $7,986 annually in tuition and fees alone.

The students who financially could not afford community college, which averages a mere $2,362 annually in tuition and fees alone, will not utilize this plan to the fullest, and will find themselves with an associate’s degree and owing back money to the government because they didn’t transfer to a four-year university.

Furthermore, the plan would give incentive to students who typically would attend a four-year university immediately after high school, by offering free coursework, and the nation would see an increase in community college attendance, rather than the usual spike in transient summer attendance when these students are looking for an easier way to complete certain degree requirements.

This plan will not create a solution for the low figure of people who have higher education credentials in the United States. It will simply provide false hope to those who truly want to better themselves by obtaining a four-year degree.

A better solution would be to allow these students to apply for financial aid based on their IRS filing status, rather than have a separate regulation when deciding whether a student is dependent or not.

Students 23 years of age or younger can file IRS taxes as independent from their family, as they might be truly independent and not receiving financial compensation from their family. But, these same students who are living on their own are the students who are required to provide their parents’ financial information regardless of their status. Only in an alternate universe we call the United States Federal Government does this ill-advised system make sense.