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Free Community College: What Parents Must Consider
Is free community college right for you or your student? Keep reading and find out!
My first thought was, “Free? Nothing in life is ever free”.
Do you have questions about the new tuition-free community college proposal? You are definitely not alone. Parents need to become informed and stay current on this new idea and consider several factors. College Parenting Expert, Wendy David-Gaines, encourages parents to consider five important aspects about the possibility of free community college in her latest article. Stay up-to-date and informed as President Obama’s new proposal is unveiled and together with your student you can make a higher education decision that is right for him or her.
WHAT PARENTS MUST CONSIDER ABOUT FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
The White House unveiled a higher education proposal on January 9 that scooped the attention of politicians and parents, Tuition-free community college for responsible students. This comes amid the push for school year 2015-16 college-bound students to apply for financial aid via the FAFSA, released the first of the year. Daily media stories show college and college costs seem to be on everyone’s mind. For parents, there are five things to consider above all else.
The Tuition-free community college proposal makes “two years of community college free for responsible students,” according to the White House Fact Sheet. In essence, it is an education policy that mergers the start of higher education into public K-12 with a twist. Only students who attend college at least half-time, maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA and make steady progress toward completing their program, may have their tuition eliminated. Community colleges must step up with fully transferable credits, job focus, and student support while states choosing to participate must join federal resources to contribute funding.
Parents must first consider the competitive need for their children to be best prepared educationally and financially for personal and career success. Higher education is the other bookend of kindergarten and preschool programs designed to jumpstart a learned and savvy future citizenry who will be making the decisions to shape the next generation. The Tuition-free community college proposal would have dedicated students earn half of the academic credit they need for a four-year degree or earn a certificate or two-year degree to prep them for a good job without incurring student loan debt.
Television host Suze Orman described the return on investment as, “Get a degree from a community college for free, and make 20 percent more on average than if you just stopped with the high school diploma.” She based her statement on the 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics which Orman also explained, “median weekly wages for workers with a bachelor’s degree is about 40 percent higher than wages for the community-college grad, and 70 percent higher than the pay a high school grade can expect.” The result is graduating students have a better future financial position.
Second, this opportunity for students is a challenge parents must take into account. Tuition is not free for those who fail to keep up their grades and commit to finishing what they start. Responsibility is key or both time and money may be wasted as it has for millions who started but never finished their degree over the last two decades. It is a lesson parents are best able to teach.
Almost adult teens often are undecided about what they want to study. They can make poor decisions, switch majors that lose credits, and delay graduation. Third, parents can think about how to help their students maximize their opportunities with open communication via a parent-student team.
When expert advice is needed, they can work together to find mentors, advisors, and school counselors.
Life-long learning is the fourth mull-over message for both parents and students who want to stay current with marketable skills, critical thinking, and good decision-making. As a team, they can join together to enhance their strengths and fortify their weaknesses through education. It is a lifestyle choice families can continue to make.
There has been a lot of pro and con comments in the media to the Tuition-free community college proposal. The bottom line is only legislation can make it happen and finalize the rules. Lastly, parents of children of all ages can let their opinions be heard as advocates for their children’s education.
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Monica Matthews is the author of How to Win College Scholarships. She helped her own son win over $100,000 in college scholarships and now shares her expertise with other parents and their students. She truly has “been there, done that” in regards to helping parents and students navigate the scholarship process.
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