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President Obama proposes free college tuition - KOAM TV 7

President Obama proposes free college tuition

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It's a plan to can a problem that's plagued students for generations.

"I can't afford to pay it all on my own.  So I had to make sure that with my scholarships and everything, that I'd be able to afford it," says Calli Rose Lawson, a sophomore college student.

President Obama wants community college to be free of tuition, as long as students maintain proper grade point averages and attendance records.

"I think it's a double-edged sword," says Stone Roberts, a freshman college student.  "It's got its advantages and disadvantages.  The money has to come from somewhere, and it means taxpayer money, most likely."

Jeff Hale, president of NEO A&M College, has heard the six-billion dollar cost of this proposed program would come from the U.S. Department of Education's budget.  But the six-billion dollars would make up six or seven percent of the Department of Education's total allocations.

"It's conceivable for me that you can reallocate resources, change some programs.  Maybe do away with some programs that aren't as effective," says Hale.

States would have to participate in the program in order for colleges to be eligible.  Each state would have to match federal contributions.

"I think it's another obstacle.  I guess it's ultimately up to the individual states on whether it becomes a roadblock or not," says Hale.

Oklahoma already has its own 60-million dollar a year program that covers college and university tuition for certain students.

"We've got two decades worth of data that clearly demonstrate these students make higher GPA than the general student population, they stay in school at a longer rate, and they graduate at a higher rate than the general student population," says Hale.

So in the end, there will be possible social and economic effects considered.

"The job force would be a lot broader," says Roberts.

And there may be increased competition for those jobs.

There are some specific questions to the President's proposal that remain unanswered, because they have not been released.  An increase of students may force a community college to expand.  Some feel community colleges would have an unfair advantage over universities.

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