EDUCATION DIVE: 5 pros and cons of Obama’s free community college plan

Career College Central Summary:

  • President Barack Obama announced his free community college plan to the nation last week, and the first wave of critics and advocates have had their say.
  • Formally called “America’s College Promise,” the plan is modeled after the “Tennessee Promise” and offers free tuition for two years at community college to students who keep up a grade-point average of 2.5 or better, and who graduate within three years.
  • Here's a rundown of five pros and cons being debated about the plan so far:
  • Con: Partisan opposition

    • The plan may be dead in the water already, considering that it requires Congress to approve spending for the idea and the Republican majority is unlikely to support it. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate’s education committee, has stated he opposes the plan and that it should be up to individual states to provide a free community college option, similar to Tennessee’s program.
  • Pro: It could still be accepted below the federal level

    • Despite the stated opposition of Republicans in Congress, the idea has garnered bipartisan support below the federal level: In a state, with Tennessee’s GOP leadership, for example. And with Chicago, which is led by Democrats. Presenting the free community college plan puts the idea in the national conversation, even if it ultimately doesn’t come to fruition. In pointing out problems with the plan, critics may be forced to present better alternatives, and workable solutions can emerge.

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