“Students who started at community colleges…and then go on to a four-year institution — they essentially get the first half of their bachelor’s degree for free. People who enroll for skills training will graduate already ready to work, and they won’t have a pile of student debt.”
President Barack Obama’s address to an audience at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee highlighted higher education as a way to upward mobility. “A college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class. It is the key to getting a good job that pays a good income — and to provide you the security,” he said.
The president certainly isn’t wrong. Study after study shows a direct correlation between levels of education and levels of income. On average, the higher your degree, the more money you make. Of course, this isn’t true for everyone, but most Americans do feel the practical benefits of higher education.
The president added a condition to a free community college education. “You would have to earn it,” he said. “Students would have to do their part by keeping their grades up. Colleges would have to do their part by offering high-quality academics and helping students actually graduate…For those willing to do the work…it can be a game-changer. Two years of college will become as free and universal as high school is today.”
Mr. Obama’s plan would cost $60 billion over 10 years. There are already opponents balking at funding this program. But think about how much our government will spend in 2015: more than a trillion dollars goes to health care and nearly a trillion is spent on defense. Almost $100 billion is budgeted for transportation and $394 billion is for welfare. And this year, the government will spend an estimated $131 billion for education.
Whether an 18-year-old wants to major in public relations or a 45-year-old wants a degree to enhance career options, surely $6 billion a year to help people succeed is a very worthwhile investment. I want to hear more but I’m inclined to support the president’s proposal. Your thoughts?