Free community college could help break down barriers
Education is obviously important.
As one of the approximately 60,000 students at UCF, I'm sure we can all agree. Now whether you're here to be the first in your family to graduate, or because everybody in your family goes to college or to earn a degree to help you on the career path of your dreams, there is no denying that education is important.
Now, imagine if you could go for free.
President Barack Obama announced on Facebook last week that in his State of the Union address he plans to propose free community college for those who are willing to work for it.
On the surface, the thought and the idea is brilliant. Obviously, we do not have all of the details yet — as far as the cost and the other logistics — but getting the ball rolling is crucial. The details will likely be announced in more detail during Tuesday's State of the Union address.
"Put simply, what I'd like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for anybody who's willing to work for it," Obama said. "It's something we can accomplish, and it's something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anyone in the world."
In the most recent Pearson Education Global Performance Report, two countries that provide free college finished ahead of the United States: Germany and Finland.
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According to the Washington Post, you can earn an undergraduate or graduate degree in Germany without speaking a lick of German.
Now I'm not going to sit here and tell you that free education equals good education. In fact, it could be the opposite. But I also know friends of mine who were unable to go to college because of financial concerns, whether they couldn't afford to pay for college or because they had to work to support families.
In a system where they could get free community college, those people can make it work. If you really look at Obama's words, he mentions that "those who are willing to work for it" can get free community college.
The make or break portion — which USA Today reported could cost $60 billion — is exactly what that previous statement means. What are the requirements of work?
It appears we might find that out on Tuesday.
Ryan Gillespie is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @rgillespiecff or email him at RyanG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.