Free Tuition Plan for Community Colleges Could Hurt 4 Year Institutions

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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President Obama’s says most new jobs require some college education or technical training but too many high school graduates can’t afford it.

“That’s why I’m sending this congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college to zero."

It’s called the College Promise. It would mean the federal government promises to pay three quarters of the cost of community college if the states who sign up will pay for the remaining 25%. The students would have to promise to keep at least a 2.5 grade point average.

But many community colleges now have agreements with 4 year institutions that their credits will transfer if a student wants to move elsewhere and earn a bachelor’s degree.
Cincinnati state has a deal with two dozen colleges. Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland has a transfer deal with three dozen 4 year colleges.

So we asked the President of the University of Akron, Scott Scarborough, how universities can compete with free tuition at the 2 year schools?

“It is a form of competition, no question about, it but even more important than the competition itself is what it does to the overall economic model of the university. Because if you don’t have those undergraduate students, and particularly first two years of the undergraduate experience you probably don’t have the cash flow in order to pay for the commercialization and the PhD programs and the polymer science and polymer engineering.”

President Obama wants raises in certain capital gains taxes to pay for his College Promise program. So far, the Republican- dominated Congress appears cool to that idea.

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