President Obama on making community colleges free for all

President Barack Obama understands “as a student how it felt both to dream of a fine education, and to worry about paying for it.” In fact, he shares that “just five years before we moved into the White House, Michelle and I were still paying off our student loans.”  Now that is some statistic; he was age 48, and still with college debt!  In fact, the average student borrower now graduates $28,400 in debt.

As a high school student with an older brother who is a sophomore in college, I have watched as so many of our peers defer college because of its escalating cost making it out of reach for those that do not have financial means.

This is a real problem.

People are not getting educated because the cost excludes those who have financial constraints- are not those the exact people we most want to educate?  As President Obama says, “I know that our country can’t afford for talented young Americans to miss out on a higher education. College is one of the most important investments students can make in their future. It’s also one of the most important investments our country can make in our workforce; equipping Americans with the knowledge and skills they need to compete.”

In the world we live in today, education is the key to keeping America competitive.  The illustrious McKinsey and Company in 2012 held a conference on the state of human capital.  Here they coined the term “war for talent,” which refers to the idea that the bar for real talent keeps rising, and the supply of qualified candidates still falls well short of demand.  The key they profess is to “build a robust, reliable pipeline of skilled workers.”

During his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama unveiled the “America’s College Promise” proposal, which aims to make two years of community college free for responsible students around the country.  This past week President Obama’s administration is picking up on the promise to create more affordable, quality choices for students, including community colleges and apprenticeships.  The White House aims to “work to make the dream of college real for more of America’s students.”  And, his idea is to make community college free!

The President this week announced a campaign called “Heads Up”, and the idea is simple: “Let’s make two years of community college free for anyone willing to work for it.  We should do what we can to ensure everyone in America who wishes, has the chance to go to community college for free.”  You can read more, and/or join the effort at

This proposal would direct impact the 9 million students who attend 1,100 nationwide community colleges yearly.  On average, students would benefit by saving an average of $3,800 a year (for full-time students).

Why is this important?  To begin, in the next 10 years, more than six out of 10 jobs will require more than a high school diploma. Yet, only 40% of U.S. adults ages 25-64 currently have a post-secondary degree.  If America wants to stay competitive with the rest of the world, our workforce needs to be educated to conduct the jobs needed in a modern world.  In the past the American economy was agricultural-intensive and labor-intensive where we used brawn to produce goods; but, the global economy is transitioning to what Peter Drucker (the Father of modern business management) calls a “knowledge economy” which relies on the use of our brains to produce goods and services.  So, free community college is a win for all Americans, as a more educated work force creates more output, which is so essential to the growth of the economy.  Let’s educate America, and encourage students to go to college!