President Obama and the White House launched a plan to further subsidize community college that was first released in January 2015.
Aiming to expand higher education, Obama had released the plan to make the subsidies a part of the federal budget, which had to be voted on by Congress.
The plan involved the federal government paying 75% of college fees, with the state paying the rest.
This program could be especially helpful for California, as it has the largest system of community colleges in the nation.
The state’s community college system operates on 112 campuses, with a total enrollment upward of two million students. Considering over 65% of 2015 graduates went to community college after high school, this is great news for high school students, as well as their parents.
“Community colleges are the primary access point to higher education in California and the nation, and our economy is increasingly requiring college-educated workers. We look forward to working with the White House as the proposal takes shape,” says Brice W. Harris, California Community Colleges Chancellor to the Los Angeles Times.
Between 2007 and 2012, the system had lost around $1.5 billion in funding, almost 500,000 students.
The plan could allow a sharp boost in enrollment and course availability, and Obama’s proposal implementation could make some college almost free in California. The White House estimated the plan would save students about $3,800 each on average.
“I think it is great to give students who did not move on to a four-year college the opportunity to apply themselves,” says SLVHS Senior Anna Morris.
In more recent developments, Vice President Joe Biden announced on April 26th a $100 million competition for America’s Promise Job-Driven Training Grants.
These grants are going to be channeled through the Department of Labor. They are expected to enable colleges to create tuition-free education and job-training programs, along with their local business communities.
The new grants are similar to those from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program that dispersed $2 billion to form partnerships with business institutions to help improve job-training programs around the country.
“The administration is being smart in finding ways to move the free community college agenda further,” says Mary Alice McCarthy, senior analyst with New America. McCarthy says, “I really applaud their creativity in an environment in which Congress won’t move on anything. They’re finding ways to keep this issue on the forefront.”
The new grant program will improve job programs to the point where college students will feel more confident to look for a job, as they are taught more necessary skills to enter their field well.
Too often in the past have workforce programs not been able to adequately prepare students. Workplaces have been looking to expand with workers who have the necessary skills, and colleges may now be able to provide them.
Since Obama’s announcement for this program, which was over a year ago, almost 30 free community college programs have been jump-started across the country.
The White House administration estimates more than $70 million in new public and private dollars have gone to serving more than 40,000 college students throughout the United States.
By Robert Jeffrey