STATESMEN JOURNAL: Obama College plan another gift horse from taxpayers
Career College Central Summary:
The State of the Union address is coming, which means it’s time for President Obama to propose new federal entitlements. His latest gift horse from taxpayers comes under the pretext of improving America’s workforce: free community college.
Community colleges are public state or local institutions, often two- or three-year programs, that attempt to narrow the skills gap for high-school graduates who don’t attend four-year colleges. The schools vary widely in quality, and in practice they often provide remedial training in basic math and reading skills to kids who were promoted through failing K-12 schools.
The White House proposal would waive tuition for students who attend community college at least half-time and maintain a 2.5 GPA (that’s a C+). You have to work hard not to get that grade. Washington would then cover 75 percent of tuition on the condition that states pay the rest. The Obama Administration calls this a federal-state “partnership.” It’s more accurate to call it the education version of Medicaid without the fiscal discipline.
To be eligible, community colleges would have to offer academic credits that transfer to four-year colleges or occupational programs that produce high graduation rates and degrees in demand by employers. The Administration doesn’t specify how it would measure the latter, but you can bet it would include nonprofit and government jobs.
Colleges must also “adopt promising and evidence-based institutional reforms to improve student outcomes,” such as paying for books and transit costs. President Obama is also proposing a new worker-training fund whose objective is the same as Washington’s 30 some other job-training programs.
White House officials are whispering to reporters that all of this will cost federal taxpayers $60 billion over 10 years, and another $20 billion by the states, if you choose to believe them. The White House predicted in 2010 that expanding its income-based repayment (i.e., student loan forgiveness) plans would cost $1.7 billion that year and $7.4 billion over the following decade. By 2014 the Administration’s estimate had ballooned to $7.6 billion for 2015 alone.
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