Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 8.34.08 AMFree community college proposal displays benefits and negative effects

By Hashem Anabtawi, ’15

Thirty thousand dollars in debt. Not an uncommon situation for students around the block at The Ohio State University. Many students only have time to think a few days into the future. Although victims of student loans currently don’t fret about the five-digit weight on their necks, years from now they will be forced to face the issue head on.

Take us back to the ‘70s: a time when paying for college was just a little simpler. Since then, the cost of college tuition, room and board and other expenses have doubled and even tripled in terms of the modern dollar, according to The College Board, making higher education an unreachable goal for modern day families and students. But President Obama might have a plan.

In the recent State of the Union, under the topic of relating college availability to the new competitive job market, Obama has proposed to decrease the cost of community college to a not-often seen number.

“By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education. And yet, we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need,” Obama said. “That’s why I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college—to zero.”

The details include that the federal government be responsible for 75 percent of the cost of the plan, and states take care of the other 25 percent. As for the student, he or she must maintain a 2.5 GPA with at least 12 semester credit hours.

This proposal was meant to give all students a chance at secondary education, something senior Cyle Goldrick was ecstatic to hear.

“I feel like this will really give everyone an equal chance at education coming out of high school and for adults in general,” Goldrick said. “It would help people with a lower income really have a chance at success in life and achieve an education that may not have been possible for them.”

Goldrick plans to attend Columbus State Community College following graduation. He believes in the future, unlike most students, he won’t have anything to worry about debt-wise.

“Choosing to go to Columbus State is and will be a big money saver and I plan to go there for two years and then transfer to Ohio University,” Goldrick said. “I don’t plan to have any debt coming out of college so I really think this will benefit me in the long run.”

Further than a year with Goldrick’s plan in action, 2014 UAHS alum Scott Hunter is already experiencing its benefits, and unfortunately some hardship of his own.

“I chose Columbus State because I don’t want a lot of debt leaving college and transferring to Ohio State is not that hard. Financially, it will save me two years of OSU’s tuition after I transfer because I’m paying only around $1,000 a semester after grants,” Hunter said. “But even with that I’m going to have to take some time off of school to make money again.”

The transfer policy to The Ohio State University is, as Hunter said, not too difficult. According to the official website, it takes 45 quarter (credit) hours and at least a 2.0 (on a 4.0 scale) GPA for consideration. For Ohio University, requirements include nine semester hours or 12 quarter hours for consideration.

Allen Kraus is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Columbus State Community College. Kraus recognizes the modern tuition problem and is open to beneficiary changes but stresses the oncoming problems if Obama’s proposal were to pass.

“Affordability and college debt are clearly huge national problems to which community colleges are the answer. Any plan that will help curb the cost of tuition to community college will be welcome news for students,” Kraus wrote in an e-mail to Arlingtonian. “Funding, however, will be one key factor going forward; we must keep taxpayers in mind with any program that offers financial assistance.”

Hunter agrees it may be difficult for this proposal to pass.

“I feel that it will never pass due to taxing for it,” Hunter said. “People won’t be willing to put up with taxes and if he plans to tax the rich more, that will be shot down. It’s a good idea, but not realistic for its cost.”

Kraus recommends students attend CSCC now and is prepared for the influx of students as a result of the proposals passing (if that were to happen) due to the significant savings in tuition.

“With tuition of about $4,000 per year, [students] can save thousands of dollars by attending for two years, earn an associate degree along the way, and then transfer to a four-year university to finish their bachelor’s degree,” Kraus wrote. “We are able to accommodate an increase, if the plan would become a reality.”

For those thinking the quality of education is at risk with attending a community college, think again. Kraus explains that the coursework and curriculum at Columbus State is exactly the same if not better in certain areas.

“The classes and coursework at Columbus State are identical to those offered at four-year universities,” Kraus wrote. “In addition, our faculty has all earned master’s degrees or Ph.D.’s which insures that students here have a top-rate educational experience.”

Though unable to predict the results with the little detail offered in Obama’s proposition, Kraus believes Columbus State is a great choice nonetheless in terms of meeting the logistics of the local job market.

“In Central Ohio, dozens of employers have told us that they have job openings but not enough qualified workers to fill those positions. Columbus State is well positioned to educate the workforce needed for our region at a more affordable cost,” Kraus wrote. “We work closely with regional employers to design programs that will fill vital workforce needs.”

Obama’s proposal faces the questionable reality once again. Hunter, Goldrick and even Krause are anxious to see the outcome.