February 2, 2015

Community College Shouldn't Be Free

Thomas W. Miller, Jr.

Senior Affiliated Scholar
Summary

President Barack Obama recently opined that he would like “to see the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it.” This important proposal from the president’s State of the Union Address has already gained support from Dr. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania. Obama, Gutmann and I all agree that higher education has a high value. Yet we likely disagree on its price.

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President Barack Obama recently opined that he would like “to see the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it.” This important proposal from the president’s State of the Union Address has already gained support from Dr. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania. Obama, Gutmann and I all agree that higher education has a high value. Yet we likely disagree on its price.

It is my opinion, based on front-line experience and training, that college education should decidedly not be free to students. There must be a price, even if it is a low one, on any college education.

During my fall 2009 sabbatical, I taught a week-long course to university students in Paris. These students were enrolled in an international program with courses taught in France and the United States.

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