Obama Free Community College Proposal Could Mean Major State Funding Boost

 

President Obama's proposal for tuition-free community college for some students would mean a significant jump in state funding for Illinois' community colleges. State funding for Illinois' 48 community colleges currently accounts for only 5 percent of the schools' budgets, on average.

The president wants to make two years of community college free for many students nationwide. It's an effort to increase access to higher education, as college continues to get more expensive and student loan debt continues to grow.

Under his proposal, the federal government would foot 75 percent of the bill, with participating states kicking in the rest.

Karen Hunter Anderson, head of the Illinois Community College Board, says the plan is welcome...if the state guarantees funding.

 "I think we certainly can handle a lot more students than we currently have but not without a commitment from the state to provide more financial support," she said.

But Illinois' contribution to community colleges has declined in the past decade--community colleges now rely more on property taxes than state funds.

Besides the state's financial realities -- including a multi-billion dollar budget hole created by the recent sunset of the 2011 income tax hike -- the plan would have to pass a Republican Congress first.

Illinois' community colleges served 338-thousand students in 2014. More than 10 percent of the state's community college students take out student loans to pay for their education.

Obama’s proposal was inspired in part by the Chicago Star Scholarship program, a new initiative that creates a free tuition pipeline from Chicago Public Schools to the City Colleges of Chicago.

Story source: WILL

Pop Up Archive Item: “Obama Free Community College Proposal Could Mean Major State Funding Boost” : https://www.popuparchive.com/collections/1468/items/31486
Transcript for file: 2015-01-09-comm-college-1.mp3

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The president wants to make two years of community college free for many students nationwide. It’s an effort to increase access to higher education as college continues to get more expensive and student loan debt continues to grow. Under his proposal the federal government would foot seventy five percent of the bill with participating states kicking in the rest. Karen Hunter Anderson head of the Illinois Community College Board says the plan is welcome.

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If the state guarantees funding I think we certainly can handle a lot more students than we currently have but not without a commitment from the state to provide more financial support.

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The Illinois contribution to community colleges has declined in the past decade. Community colleges now rely more on property taxes than state funds. Besides the state’s financial realities including a multibillion dollar budget hole created by the recent sunset of the twenty eleven income tax hike the plan would have to pass the Republican Congress first. I’m Hannah Meisel, Illinois Public Media.