Calhoun Community College interim president discusses President Biden's plan for free tuition

Biden's new plan would offer students free tuition at all community colleges.

Posted: Apr 28, 2021 5:04 PM
Updated: Apr 28, 2021 8:20 PM

Under President Joe Biden's American Families Plan, the federal government would cover about 75% of the average tuition cost. The state would cover the rest. Students say the plan could help them keep their student debt down.

"I still live with my parents at the moment, so it's helping out," Breann Shelton said.

Shelton is a freshman at Calhoun Community College. She chose to go to a community college to help save money and says she likes Biden's idea of making the first two years of tuition free.

"I think it would help," Shelton said.

A recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows almost 63% of high school graduates enrolled into college last year. That's down by around 3% compared to 2019. Of that group that did not enroll in college, more than 30% were not considered to be in the workforce.

"That's kind of a scary number," interim president of Calhoun Community College Dr. Joe Burke said. "This day and time, students need to have some sort of credential outside of high school to be successful."

Dr. Burke says free tuition may sound good, but there are more needs students face.

"They have so many more expenses for their education," Dr. Burke said.

Things like books, transportation and internet access are just some of the expenses students will need to think about. He's also concerned students may not complete a program or degree by the end of two years.

"The concern is that they stay in college and complete their program of study," Dr. Burke said.

However, students say the plan is more of an opportunity than anything else.

"It would eventually bring more people and allow people to realize, 'Okay! This is something I might want to look into.' It would just be a good push in the right direction," Shelton said.

If Biden's plan does pass and tuition would be covered, Calhoun Community College would expect a rise in students. The interim president says they're already prepared to deal with that increase.

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