Local colleges ‘thrilled’ to hear President Biden’s free community college proposal

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FINGER LAKES, N.Y. (WROC) — The concept of free college is not new, but President Biden’s introduction of the American Families Plan put a spark in the conversation with a major proposal.

The plan includes a proposal for free community college for all Americans – and two colleges News 8 spoke to are thrilled at the possibility.

Dr. Kate Douglas is interim president for Monroe Community College. She says this could be the tipping point for students all across the country choosing higher education, if they were on the fence before.

She says things like finances, and raising a family can get in the way of many students finishing or even starting their degree. For MCC, one in five students are parents.

“The students that are drawn to community college, many of them are first generation students with a lower socio-economic level of family students,” she said.

Tuition for a full-time semester at MCC for this year is $2,353. For Finger Lakes Community College, it’s $2,432. Often times students struggle to reach their degree even with financial help.

Dr. Robert Nye is the president of FLCC. He is also thrilled to hear of this proposal, and says the financial burdens are the biggest hurdle for many. A vast majority of his students work over 20 hours a week, making it harder to commit to school.

He says free community college would also help enrollment, which has suffered over the years.

“It’s an exceptional opportunity for people to return who may’ve dropped out before,” he said.

President Biden’s bill also proposes an increase of Pell Grants – that’s grant money for low-income students to avoid borrowing. “Tuition alone doesn’t help students through, life gets in the way, feeding family, taking care of bills, transportation child care,” said Dr. Nye.

But this proposal isn’t going anywhere overnight. And it would take over a decade to be paid for, in the form of tax increases on the wealthy.

Dr. Douglas and Nye both say – no matter what you’re political views are – the idea of a world where education is more accessible and affordable –  is a possibility they want everyone to open their minds up to.

The series of taxes on the wealthy would have to raise about %1.5 Trillion over that 10-year span.

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