If enacted, the proposal will offer two tuition-free years of community college to students who maintain a C+ grade-point average and attend classes at least half-time. The federal government would cover 75 percent of the cost, with participating states covering the rest.
Studies find that community college investments pay themselves back to the government many times over and vastly raise students’ earning potential. Nationwide, community colleges are already a major part of the U.S. economy, contributing an estimated $809 billion in 2012, according to a study by the Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. On the local level, community colleges mean better jobs, higher wages and more spending power for graduates, as well as a larger skilled workforce for local employers.
“Rising levels of education yield a more skilled workforce, which is a crucial driver of economic growth,” Shai Reshef, founder and president of University of the People, a nonprofit online university, said in a recent interview with The Washington Post. “I think Obama’s proposal is an effort to revive education as one of the drivers of economic growth, and this is a good thing.”
California, home to the largest community college system in the country, exemplifies the kinds of economic gains Obama’s plan could bring. Read more…