Some Early Thoughts on President Obama’s Proposal for Free Education at U.S. Community Colleges

ACADEME BLOG

I should begin by stating that I am in favor of any proposal that provides free higher education at public colleges and universities. In fact, I am in favor of any proposal that reduces the cost to students without compromising the quality of instruction.

I think that the president’s proposal will help community colleges because their funding has generally been hurt in two waves: first by the loss of federal stimulus dollars in 2011 and then by the introduction of performance-based funding in many states.

Completion rates for associates degrees are generally lower than those for baccalaureate degrees, and that reality should not surprise anyone who gives it any thought. Many students enrolling at community colleges are seeking technical training due to volatility in the job market, and so their reason for enrolling may disappear with some change in the job market. Moreover, many of those students have issues with…

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