Free Community College

As a professional, it is important to stay keen on current political events, especially if those events could have great implications for your field.

During the 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama described a free community college proposal that could have a significant impact on the higher education landscape in the United States. The 2015 State of the Union Address was the first time President Obama had spoken publically about this proposal, and framed it as a potential avenue to combat inequality within higher education and to support middle class economics. It was also portrayed to have bipartisan appeal, as the President spoke of the Tennessee Promise Program (republican), and a free community college plan in Chicago (democratic). As the title states, this proposal suggests free tuition for community college students if they meet the guidelines for the program. The stipulations include that students attend at least half-time, maintain at least a GPA of 2.5, and are making progress toward a degree or transferring to a four-year institution. In addition, the federal government will be responsible for contributing to 75% of the tuition costs, and under the proposal, individual states would be responsible for the remaining 25% of the tuition.

As you can imagine, this could change the demographics, policies and procedures at community colleges across the nation, as well as impact state legislature. A question in my mind was how this might impact students transferring to a university.  As I have mentioned previously,  there is a growing population of transfer students. with almost 40% attending a community college prior to going to a four-year institution. Is free tuition at community colleges going to make this rate go up? If community colleges are viewed  as an extension on high school, how could that change the relationship between  community colleges and universities?

I know that I am asking questions and not providing any answers, but I’m not sure anyone has concrete answers as this point, as this proposal has been described as “bold” and research has not yet been conducted. However, I think it is important to consider the multiple of implications this plan could have, and be ready to adjust to changes as they might occur.

State of the Union Address:


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