As part of his presidential campaign, Joe Biden outlined a plan to help combat the student debt problem by making community colleges free for all.
States like California already have programs in place that waive or reduce the cost of community colleges. However, these programs are usually limited to students looking to get degrees in certain fields, fall under certain low-income brackets, or are first-generation students.
Community college students often struggle in completing their associate’s degree in two years as a result of financial struggles. Free community colleges won’t just help those students who are currently struggling financially but bring in those who are looking to change their future and in turn that of our nations.
Increasing access to community colleges wouldn’t hurt 4-year universities by affecting their acceptance rates. By making community colleges free, the nation benefits from near-universal access to higher education. This is especially beneficial for low-income students who do not qualify for certain programs.
Attending a community college is seen as a stepping stone towards a four-year university by some students. With programs like California’s Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG), qualified Skyline students planning to transfer can gain guaranteed admission to one of six UC participants.
Allowing anyone to gain a degree is beneficial beyond the individual recipients, but builds a better future for our nation. As we move towards an automated future, more jobs and careers will require degrees in positions that used to accept just a high school diploma.
In recent years we’ve begun to see community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in certain fields. Here at Skyline, students can earn a bachelor’s degree of Science in Respiratory Care. As more community colleges begin to offer bachelor’s degrees, more students will be able to complete their degrees without having to transfer to an expensive university.
This also gives people the opportunity to earn more degrees in fields they’d like to explore. With free community college, anyone looking to change their career paths can return to school without having to worry about the cost of attending.
Making community college free would take away financial strains and allow for more access to higher education for everyone.