Community College Should be Free


Anna Odell, Staff Writer

College isn’t cheap. A solution to this problem that many people turn to are community colleges. Community college costs are much lower, it has flexible schedules, and it gives you a chance to improve your grades. While it does offer many benefits, it still isn’t free. 

“$1,310 is the cost of in-state tuition for the average community college in California,” Education Data Initiative said.

Furthermore, out-of-state students have to pay around $7,730 each year. While this still doesn’t compare to the pricey private college tuition, it’s still not entirely affordable.

California is progressive in the sense that it does have free tuition programs. While books and transportation aren’t free, California does have programs for people that allow for the tuition of college to be free. These are called promise programs and are designed to help low-income families who might not have the money to afford college tuition.

Laist stated, “California Community Colleges offer free tuition to more students than any other higher education system in the U.S.” 

However while California is unique in this way, people in other states don’t always have the same opportunity. 

According to Beyond the States, “since 1985, U.S college costs have surged by about 500%.” 

This percentage is unbelievable and extremely unreasonable.

We are setting people up for failure regarding the opportunities they have depending on the amount of schooling they’ve received. It’s completely unfair as we are opening the doors to success only for those who can afford it when it shouldn’t be about money.

As the American Civil Liberties Union stated, people in the U.S. are given an, “equal educational opportunity no matter what their race, ethnic background, religion, or sex, or whether they are rich or poor, citizen or non-citizen.”

However, while the U.S. prides itself on providing an education for all, this isn’t exactly true as we have made it nearly impossible to afford schooling unless you are a part of the upper class demographic. As a result of not being able to pay tuition, students go into debt. This can be extremely difficult for them to pay off since the jobs that pay enough to get rid of their student debts are usually only available to students with a college degree. Even then, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to pay their debt off quickly. 

According to Saving For College, “the average time in repayment for federal student loans is up to 16-19 years.”

But why should community colleges be free? 

The Skyline View said “By making community colleges free, the nation benefits from near-universal access to higher education. This is especially beneficial for low-income students who do not qualify for certain programs.”

Giving each person an equal opportunity to receive a college degree would, in turn, allow people to qualify for jobs other than the few that are available to those who have only a high school diploma. It will ensure that workers are skilled and educated in the field necessary for their job. 

According to Imagine America people, “think they can’t afford college” and so they don’t attend. 

Making community college free would encourage more people to actually attend college because even with financial aid programs, the expenses can still be too steep for most. This unfortunately compels them to abandon the concept of a college education altogether.

During his campaign, President Joe Biden wanted to push for two years of tuition-free community college. 

This plan would have decreased “the amount of debt and the number of students who have to take out student loans to complete college,” Nerd Wallet said. 

Unfortunately, President Biden announced that he would be omitting this concept from his original plan as the $3.5 trillion bill was just too large of a number for fellow Democrats. This could have helped so many students throughout the country as making college more accessible to people would benefit society as a whole.

If community colleges were free, we could have more qualified workers, more job opportunities for those who can’t afford to pay steep college tuition, and less debt. Hopefully in the future, we can see this become a reality.