Free community college tuition proposed

Students throughout the country may have one less financial hurdle to overcome in the future.

In January’s State of the Union address, President Obama announced a proposal to provide free community college nationwide, drawing both praise and criticism while opening dialogue about the accessibility of higher education.

“Right now I don’t even have a solid source of income, so it would be really cool,” Skyline student, Daniel Guiterrez, said.

Student David Hope pointed out that successful, low income students already receive financial aid and doesn’t see the need for free community college.
“There’s no real reason to give money for community college, since a lot of people get caught up in the two-year system,” Hope said. “It’s kind of a waste of money.”
“Students are exiting colleges these days with a tremendous amount of debt,” Skyline College President, Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud, said. “It really incapacitates them before they even start.”

Stanback Stroud, who was appointed to President Obama’s advisory council on financial capability for young Americans last Fall, said that while the council advised the president about the crucial role community colleges play in increasing young people’s success, free community college was not their idea.

“I’m afraid I can’t take credit for it,” Stanback Stroud said, citing research from Professor of Educational-Policy Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Sara Goldrick-Rab, as possible inspiration for Obama’s proposal.
Stanback Stroud added that free tuition could allow the state to use funding for the Board of Governors fee waiver for other purposes, such as funding for books.
Free community college could mean changes for Skyline, such as a spike in enrollment and increased demand for technical programs, but, according to Stanback Stroud, the school is prepared to handle it.

“To me, it’s always a good thing for people to have access (to community college) and for us to be able to provide it,” Stanback Stroud said. “If we have the capacity and are able to meet those needs, it is a great thing. If not, I would be interested in increasing that capacity.”

Stanback Stroud acknowledged that the “rationing of education” in California and the emphasis on career and technical education has resulted in the deprioritization of things like lifelong learning and continuing education, which she hopes to restore in the future.