President Obama proposes free community college tuition for students

President Obama proposes free community college tuition for students

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama introduced a proposal to make tuition free for community college students.

Going to college can be a huge financial undertaking, with most students incurring loan debt for years after they earn a diploma.

UNO student Jeremiah Nolan says, "My parents are still paying for my school right now so I don't even have any money."

In Tuesday's address, President Obama proposed an idea to ease that burden. Obama says he's sending Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college to zero.

"It definitely would be amazing if community colleges were free," UNO student Hayden Guthrie said.

Emily Pouilliard adds, "It's a good idea for people who…really need financial assistance."

The one caveat: Students must keep their grades up and graduate on time.

UNO political scientist says, "I personally think it's a great idea. The question is, how you pay for it because technically they say its free but the reality is someone has to pay for it."

Obama didn't release those details in his speech.

Chervenak says the idea fits in line with Obama's goal of helping middle class families in the U.S. but despite how popular the idea may be with students, Chervenak says it's unlikely it'll happen thanks to a Republican controlled Congress. "The problem is that Republicans are just fundamentally opposed to any federal government intervention in state matters and education is a state matter," Chervenak said.

And Chervenak says it definitely won't make it past Governor Jindal, explaining, "I would assume he would be against it. He seems to have this knee jerk reaction to against anything President Obama is for so I would suspect he would reject the money."

Chervenak says it's a shame politics could potentially derail the idea, that may help students, like Jeremiah Nolan, who plans to put his future degree to work, helping war veterans. "I wanted to go into the Navy and use that like for helping the wounded come back and help them come back from being injured," said Nolan.

President Obama says he believes this proposal is possible because community college is free right now in Tennessee, a state with Republican leadership. It's also free in the City of Chicago.

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