Community Colleges

May 1, 2015 • Volume 25, Issue 17
Should the federal government offer free tuition?
By David Hosansky


Aaron Pressley majored in political science (Maricopa Community College District)
Aaron Pressley majored in political science at Arizona's top-ranked Maricopa Community Colleges, where he served as an Honors Advisory Council leader. Nearly half the nation's undergraduates attend two-year schools, many of which struggle with low funding and poor graduation rates. (Maricopa Community College District)

Community colleges are an increasingly important part of the nation's education system, enrolling about 45 percent of all undergraduates, many of whom are unprepared for the rigors of a four-year institution or cannot afford to attend one. Policymakers and business leaders say community colleges, which typically grant two-year associate degrees, are crucial for training the next generation of American workers and ensuring the nation's continued global competitiveness. President Obama is proposing government-funded tuition for community college students who maintain a 2.5 grade point average and attend at least half-time, similar to Tennessee's free-tuition plan. But critics argue that Obama's plan is too costly and could disproportionately benefit middle-class students and that many community college students drop out before graduating. Both critics and advocates of community colleges agree the institutions have a challenging mission: opening their doors to all high school graduates, even those who struggle academically. Meanwhile, some community colleges are offering bachelor's degree programs designed to meet the needs of local employers.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Colleges and Universities
Dec. 04, 2020  Graduates' Prospects
Sep. 11, 2020  Higher Education in the COVID Era
Oct. 26, 2018  Issues in Higher Education
Nov. 20, 2015  Greek Life on Campus
May 08, 2015  Free Speech on Campus
May 01, 2015  Community Colleges
Jan. 02, 2015  College Rankings
Jan. 18, 2013  Future of Public Universities
Feb. 04, 2011  Crime on Campus
Jan. 07, 2011  Career Colleges
Dec. 12, 2003  Black Colleges
Apr. 21, 2000  Community Colleges
Feb. 16, 1996  Academic Politics
Jan. 05, 1990  What Should College Students Be Taught?
Jul. 27, 1984  Colleges in the 1980s
Jan. 23, 1981  Plight of America's Black Colleges
Apr. 11, 1980  College Admissions
Sep. 06, 1974  College Recruiting
Mar. 01, 1974  Academic Tenure
Sep. 14, 1966  Graduate School Crush
College Financing and Funding
Cost of Education and School Funding
Undergraduate and Graduate Education