President Obama and Vice President Biden (along with many other Democrats) are still pursuing their dream of making college “free.” Sure, it might be a fairytale, considering that colleges must pay teachers, administrators, and all service staff (like janitors, lunch-ladies, librarians, bookstore clerks, etc.), and they must pay to build buildings and keep the power on, water running and trash collected. Plus the millions of other costs associated with running a school for hundreds or thousands of people. The President thinks we can do it for free… and so we’re damn well gonna try.
Well, he’s not. You are. See, he’s going to make it “free” by raising your taxes. A lot. Because it will cost A LOT of money to make EVERY community college in America “free”.
But don’t worry, he’s got a plan. Listen as VP Biden explains… and try not to think about the time he said, “If you like your doctor you can keep him. If you like your plan you can keep it.” Also, try not to think of any of the other dozens of times the Obama administration has lied to you, because then you might think that this whole “free” college might be a lie too.
(You can Read the Entire Transcript at RCP.)
I’m here with a simple message: middle-class economics works…
And that’s why the President and I have a straightforward plan to remove that barrier and expand the pathway to the middle class—by bringing the cost of community colleges down—down to zero.
Zero—for anyone willing to work for it and for the institutions that meet certain basic requirements.
Our plan is no give-away. Students must keep up their grades and stay on track to graduate. States must contribute funding and hold community colleges accountable for the results. And community colleges must maintain high graduation and job placement rates.
And here’s a key point—community colleges will have to offer courses that are directly transferrable to a four-year degree.
If two years of community college are free—and credits can transfer to a four-year university—that means the cost of a four-year degree will be cut in half for a lot of working families struggling to send their children to college, qualified children.
And under our plan, students from low-income families will be able to keep the benefits that flow from other financial aid, like Pell grants, to cover childcare, housing, transportation—costs that often keep them from attending class and completing a degree in the first place.
But here’s another key point. Not every good-paying job will require a two-year or four-year degree. Some of these jobs will require just a training certificate that can be earned in just a few months.
For example, you can go to an 18-week coding bootcamp—with no previous experience in computers—and become a computer programmer making up to $70,000 a year.
There are other jobs in fields like advanced manufacturing and energy that pay $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 a year—jobs you can raise a family on.
It’s a simple fact that community colleges are the most flexible educational institutions we have. I’ve traveled all over this country, from New York to Iowa to California, to see how community colleges create partnerships with Fortune 500 companies and local businesses to generate jobs; support apprenticeships with organized labor, and prepare hardworking students for good-paying jobs in the areas in which they live.
Making community colleges free is good for workers, it’s good for companies, and it’s good for our economy.
Here’s what we propose: Close loopholes for the wealthiest investors and levy a .07% fee on the biggest banks to discourage the kind of risky behavior that crashed our economy just a few years ago.
Doing just that would pay for free community college—and provide a leg up for working families through tax credits to cover necessities like childcare.
That’s what middle-class economics is all about—giving folks a fair chance to get ahead. A fair tax code. No guarantees. Just a fair chance.
It’s simple folks, two years of community college should become as free and as universal as high school is today if we’re to make this economic resurgence permanent and well into the 21st Century.
Check out this video explaining why “free” community college is such a bad idea.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com