President Barack Obama wants to make community college free for all Americans. Um, yes please.
His 2016 budget includes a proposal for a new grant program that will provide funding to States that agree to waive tuition and fees at community colleges for eligible students, increase their own investment by matching the Federal funds, and undertake a set of reforms to improve the quality of community colleges. The budget also includes funds to create or expand job-training programs with strong employer partnerships to provide accelerated training in in-demand fields.
This is a huge step forward in ensuring that everyone has access to a college education and the opportunity to succeed.
Unsurprisingly, the privileged white males over at Michigan Capitol Confidential, a corporate-backed, conservative-propaganda-peddling “news” source think otherwise. They published a blog on Friday calling the proposal “not a very sound idea,” then slammed it for all the reasons people whose parents paid for their private education would oppose something that would change the lives of millions of Americans who have never had access to the same advantages.
For example, the blog points out that, “community college enrollment in Michigan has actually declined over the last three years.” This is arguably not because people don’t find college a worthwhile endeavor, because obviously it is – American workers with a college degree are paid 74 percent more than those with only a high school degree. It more likely has something to do with the fact that, over the past decade, state legislators have slashed funding to community colleges, causing schools to significantly increase tuitions as a result.
Many students, myself included, rely on financial aid to get through college. When that financial aid is taken away, students are left choosing between not going to college at all or being crushed under massive amounts of loan debt. Lack of financial resources prevents students from ever completing their education at a four-year institution. At the same time, the quality of education at those institutions also declines.
An advanced education is no longer just a luxury that someone could go without and still get a good job. It’s a necessity. Our legislators haven’t prioritized making college and job training affordable for students in Michigan, and now the President is taking long-overdue action so that people can better themselves without the steep financial barriers that have resulted from years of cuts made by state lawmakers.