Prince George’s Community College Applauds ‘Conversation Starting’ America’s College Promise; the ‘Free Community College’ proposal focuses national spotlight on the true value of community college.
LARGO, MD—This week, Prince George’s Community College’s Board of Trustees issued a resolution supporting President Obama’s America’s College Promise proposal, which proposes to make the first two years of college “as free and universal as high school.” In the resolution, the board “formally supports support initiatives such as America’s College Promise, which call for increased public investment in community colleges.”
“America’s College Promise has ignited an unprecedented and, frankly, overdue conversation about the role of community colleges in our nation’s education system and workforce,” said Tyjaun Lee, VP, Student Services at PGCC. “Community colleges were once the country’s best-kept secret, but now, the high-quality programs and opportunities to obtain industry-specific licenses and certifications will be the leading incentive for enterprising students motivated to achieve career success,” she said. “At PGCC the opportunities in Healthcare, IT, and Cyber careers are limitless!”
The president’s proposal guarantees that two years of tuition-free college education would be granted to all qualifying students. Among the qualifications, students must maintain a grade-point average of at least 2.5, be enrolled in a qualifying academic or workforce-training program, and belong to a household earning less than $200,000 annually. In addition, the program requires that any participating community college must implement promising and evidence-based reforms to support student success, and that states must ‘pay to play,” contributing approximately one-fourth of the cost of student tuition and fees.
The estimated federal budget for the program is $63 billion over 10 years, which some say is too expensive in the wake of the Great Recession. Prince George’s Community College President Charlene M. Dukes points to evidence showing the real value of community colleges. “In recent years, our state has reduced funding for the college,” said Dukes. “Granted, the price tag for making two years of college free is a big one, but when we look at it as an investment rather than a payout, the evidence strongly supports the idea.”
A 2014 report from Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. stated that “taxpayers fully recover the cost of the original investment [in community colleges] and also receive a return of $5.80 in addition to every dollar they paid. The average annual internal rate of return for taxpayers is 14.3 percent.”
When confronted with the costs, Vice President Lee reminds those against the proposal that public K-12 education was for a long time regarded as too expensive, “and where would our country be today without public schools available to every child?” she asks. “And where could we be if every American had access to two more years of education in the same way?”
Visit www.CollegePromiseCampaign.org and www.HeadsUpAmerica.us to learn more about the College Promise Campaign and for contact information to join the movement!
*Information courtesy of The Association of Community College Trustees and the Maryland Association of Community Colleges.