For many years in the times of our grandparents and great-grandparents, school wasn’t a necessity. Children barely finished middle school and few went on to high school unless their families were wealthy. By the time our parents came along it was more common to graduate high school but still not everyone did it. There were plenty of factory jobs around the country and recent graduates or even near graduates could easily get a job working those factory lines. Those jobs paid well and they required very little education which was definitely a benefit for our parents’ generation.

Where our parents were able to get by with a high school diploma, our grandparents could get by with a middle school education and many of our great-grandparents were able to get by without even that. It wasn’t all that long ago (in the grand scheme of things) that children barely went to school at all. After all, children used to be needed at home to help their families and unless you were very wealthy, education was a luxury that few could afford. As evidenced by the advancement of degrees for each generation however, times are changing.


It’s no longer enough to simply have a college degree. Anything above an entry level position requires advanced education and that means at least two years at community college. If you hope to someday reach management or get into a professional career you’ll need a four year or even higher level degree. But for many the cost of these degrees is still too much. After all, attending college (and especially attending a university) costs money and it also takes away a lot of the time you may need to earn money by making it difficult to hold a job. So what can you do if you need a degree to get a job but can’t afford that degree because you don’t have a job?


The Free Education Plan

President Obama has come up with yet another program to help those who currently can’t afford school. This program is designed to allow any student who graduates from college to get a two year degree from their community college. It will allow them to completely free of charge, attend two years of schooling in their choice of programs without paying a dime. (Except for what are considered the ‘extras’ of course.)


Now as always there is a small ‘catch’ with this program. Students would be required to ‘work hard’ in order to obtain the free education assistance. This means, according to the president, that they would need to have a C+ average, attend school at least half-time and make steady progress towards their degree. As long as they criteria are met they would be able to continue attending school completely free of tuition charges. This is intended to assist the students who may not otherwise be able to attend college so that they have a chance at higher paying jobs and a better life as well.


How it Works

For this proposal to work it’s important that enough money be raised. Obviously if students are not paying for their own college fees someone else needs to do so. This means that the federal and state governments will have to work together to ensure that all funds are covered to the college or university. The current understanding is that this would be a 75/25 split. The federal government would pay 75% of all tuition costs while the specific state that the student lives in would pay approximately 25%.


It’s important to note that these are tuition costs. This means if your tuition for one semester is $5,000 the federal government and your state would pay that $5,000. You would still be responsible for things like room and board, books, supplies and transportation on your own. These fees would not be covered by the new program. As such this program would actually mitigate the costs of attending college (in some cases by a lot) but you would still be required to make your own payments on many different aspects of college life. There would still be important charges to consider before enrolling.


What to Know

At this point the whole process is just a suggestion. President Obama has presented it as a part of his State of the Union Address and he’s expected to put it on his budget for 2016 but as yet there is no guarantee. A similar program has been launched in Tennessee separate from federal ruling and it’s going to be anybody’s guess how that works out. If the program is presented as a part of the budget for 2016 it will still need to pass through Congress before it can actually be put into effect so that’s something to watch for as well.


If implemented it’s believed that this program will allow a total of 9 million students to benefit throughout the country. It is also expected to save them around $4,000 each per year in tuition costs. It’s something that could definitely have many advantages for those who may not be able to even consider college without it but at the same time it may require a lot more money than some states are able to afford. After all, sending every high school graduate to college for two years without charging them a dime is going to take a lot of money out of the state budget.


If you’re interested in more information you can check out this article to learn about the proposal and more about the State of the Union. You can also check out more information on student loans (or check out this article on Obama’s student loan forgiveness program) on our website. You’ll be able to find out a lot more and you’ll even be able to apply for loans or consolidation if necessary. The world is changing fast. College is becoming more than just a bonus, it’s becoming a necessity.