Obama’s promise and Troy

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Cassie Gibbs
News Editor

Students in community college could benefit from President Barack Obama’s American College Promise proposal if it is passed, but what would that mean for those students not in community colleges?

On Jan. 9, the White House sent out a press release that laid out the plans for Obama’s proposal. These plans included having community colleges improve programs and providing funding to help support the free tuition program for each state.

The promise consists of three parts: maintaining the responsibility of the students, upgrading the quality of the college and its programs, and providing shared funding between the state and the federal government.

John Dew, senior vice chancellor of student services, said that, though he doubts this proposal will be passed, it should not affect Troy University.

“For the majority of students, it wouldn’t change anything,” Dew said. “We have a large percentage of the population who are transfer students. I don’t think we would suddenly see a big drop in enrollment on this campus.”

In order to ensure student responsibility, Obama’s proposed free tuition would be available for students for only two years, during which students must “attend (school) at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA while in college and make steady progress toward completing their program,” the press release said.

The second part of Obama’s proposal is to help create better quality programs at community colleges, which would include “academic programs that fully transfer to local public four-year colleges and universities, giving students a chance to earn half of the credit they need for a four-year degree, or are occupational training programs with high graduation rates and that lead to degrees and certificates that are in demand among employers,” the press release said.

Dew said that the future of academics,

especially at larger institutions, might be found with the increased use of online courses and other technology such as 3-D visual technology.

“It would not be hard to see a future scenario where 3-D technology becomes a desirable mode for course delivery,” Dew said. “There is also the question of how larger institutions might redesign some of their course delivery methods. The rate of change is phenomenal. I think we’re going to see a lot of changes in the coming years in education.”

Funding for the free tuition program would come from both the federal and state governments.

The federal government would pay about two-thirds of the money needed, while the state, if it decided to participate in the program, would be required to cover one-third of the expenses.

Dew said that before higher education could be funded by the state, in the case of free tuition at least, other issues would probably be focused on first, such as the overcrowding in the state’s prisons.

The free tuition program was designed after programs already in place in Tennessee and Chicago, according to the press release.

According to a speech made by President Obama in Knoxville, Tennessee, he “increased grants and took on a student loan system that was funneling billions of taxpayer dollars through big banks” while also increasing scholarships.

“We’ve cut taxes for people paying tuition,” Obama said in his speech. “We’ve let students cap their federal student loan payments at 10 percent of income so that they can borrow with confidence.”

Dew said that the experimental programs in Tennessee should have time to show results as to the success of such programs as the one that Obama is proposing.

“I think, as a nation, it would be wise to let the experiment run out over a couple of years and to see what happens in Tennessee,” Dew said.

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