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
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Jan. 22, 2021  Corporate D&I
Oct. 30, 2020  Systemic Racism
Oct. 16, 2020  Monument Protests
Oct. 09, 2020  Police Under Scrutiny Updated
Aug. 23, 2019  Reparations for Slavery
Sep. 07, 2018  The STEM Gender Gap
Jan. 19, 2018  Future of Puerto Rico
Nov. 17, 2017  Affirmative Action and College Admissions
Jul. 28, 2017  Muslims in America
Mar. 10, 2017  Charter Schools
Sep. 23, 2016  Women in Leadership
Aug. 05, 2016  Diversity in Hollywood
May 13, 2016  Women in Combat
Jan. 08, 2016  Racial Conflict
Dec. 11, 2015  Transgender Rights
May 01, 2015  Community Colleges
Apr. 24, 2015  Native American Youths
Apr. 03, 2015  Latino Voters
Dec. 12, 2014  Police Tactics
Sep. 14, 2007  Racial Diversity in Public Schools Updated
Dec. 12, 2003  Black Colleges
Oct. 10, 1997  Diversity in the Workplace
Jan. 20, 1971  Ethnic America
College Financing and Funding
Cost of Education and School Funding
Undergraduate and Graduate Education