President Obama announced a $12 billion community college proposal to increase the number of associate degree graduates by 5 million by 2020.
The boost to two-year and technical colleges, he said, will stimulate the economy and prepare students for a workplace that is demanding more highly educated employees.
Here’s how the $12 billion breaks down:
* $9 billion in competitive grants so colleges can try new programs, expand training and improve counseling.
* $2.5 billion for campus construction. This would serve as seed money for capital campaigns.
* $500 million to develop online courses.
How will we pay for this? Obama said the money would be paid out over 10 years and would come from no longer subsidizing banks and private lenders that provide student loans. (A bill changing federal student loans is before Congress.)
What’s interesting about this plan is the focus it places on community colleges. While these institutions enroll about half of all the students attending college, they are often considered the stepchild to four-year schools.
As people lose jobs they turn to community colleges, particularly technical programs, for retraining and to learn new careers.
The State University System of Georgia and others are trying to boost interest in two-year programs as a way to accommodate increased enrollment.
And let’s not forget that these schools are cheaper than four-year programs.
What do you think of the president’s plan? Who do you think would benefit from it?