Point – Free community college: We need it


David Nguyen

With the president's recent proposal, free tuition for community colleges may become a reality.

Caleb Short, Staff Writer

The cost of living is high, but the cost of not obtaining a good paying job is even higher. No one knows this better than young 20-somethings who are dually engaged in the workforce and college. It is more common than not to find that students at Mesa College, and across the county working part to full time jobs as well as taking 12 plus units. The idea of taking 12 to 16 units a semester as a full time occupation is nice, but unrealistic for most attendees.

Free tuition for community college is not just a good idea; it is vital to this generation. President Obama’s call for free community college would streamline students’ progress towards a better paying job or higher institution of education.

The president suggested that 75 percent of the costs of community college tuition be paid by the federal government, while the remaining 25 percent be paid by the state government. The $60 billion invested in higher education over the next 10 years would be an edgy bet, considering the country’s deepening debt crisis. Mr. Obama’s plan is not about immediate pay-off. The short-term effect of spending $60 billion in an intangible resource appears foolish. However, consider this, when has education ever been about immediate pay-off? The time minors invest into grade school, middle school and high school is considerable. Those roughly 10 years of the ability to work could have earned them thousands of dollars.

Sounds pretty ridiculous right? Our society has decided to institute education for children precisely because the value of educating our kids is much greater than what a child could earn in the workforce. Free community college runs on the same principle. By alleviating the additional financial stress of pursuing a higher education, free community college could allow young adults to pursue a degree or technical certification while simultaneously making a living wage.

As Mr. Obama pointed out in his address to congress, our nation made high school free in the 20th century, and ended up with one of the best workforces in the world. This generation’s free high school is community college. Our country desperately needs educated workers to compete in the profitable tech, medical and engineering based world economy.

It’s not just for the good of the country, free community college is for the good of this generation; fresh high school graduates, veterans and continuing education students all would benefit from this tremendous resource that would be open to them.