National Center for Education Statistics

According to current statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics, 19.9 million students are estimated to attend American colleges and universities in the fall of 2018, generating a lower enrollment rate than the peak of 21 million in 2010. The number of people in need of borrowing money has soared to 45 million, accumulating student loans. The average debt per graduate, as of 2016, is $37,172.

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As the tuition for various colleges is becoming a cause of great economic strain on student’s futures, a free two-year community college admission is a feasible solution that would strengthen the economy in the long run. The economic aspects to a free community college tuition will be beneficial in creating job growth for the economy, limiting the problem of student debt, and overall potentially increase the enrollment of college students.

If tuition become more affordable for the average student, there would be stimulation within the economy as job growth would escalate. Community colleges prepare technicians for jobs in leading-edge industries while granting associate’s degrees that allow students to finish the last half of their higher education at a four-year university. Decades ago, a high school education was sufficient enough to support a middle-class family’s living; however, the current market does not allow a 12 year education to have enough financial support. If more students could afford to undergo the opportunity to attend a college and earn their associate degree, the unemployment rate would be 25 percent lower than for those with merely a high school diploma. Moreover, 40 percent of people earning associate degrees advance to earn higher degrees that would broaden their opportunities in the job market. Giving students an opportunity for a two-year tuition not only spurs the job growth in the economy, but also strengthens the motivation to pursue a higher degree.

Moreover, the issue of student debt would be remarkably decreased which could impel more students to consider enrolling at a university. The National Center for Education Statistics found that students from relatively low-income families are in debt of more than $8,000 in tuition, fees, and living costs, even after taking all grants and scholarships into account for one year of community college. If students of younger generations did not have to be oppressed with decades of debt and they could afford to enroll, a more well-educated workforce and a population of more critical thinkers would emerge. No human, especially young amateurs right out of high school, wants the impediment of years of debt to restrain them from proceeding with their lives in the future. Not only would the students benefit from a debt free college tuition, but families will no longer have to face the multiple endeavours that go along with paying off student loans.

Some may argue that free community college would actually reduce the rate of student’s success by enrolling in a college that is less selective than they are academically qualified to attend. This has the future potential to end up minimizing the probability of a student graduating. Andrew Kelly, the director of the Center on Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute, makes this claim in conjunction with the fact that free tuition would reduce the rate to which low-income students undermatch at less-selectives colleges. However, actions have been taken in order to avert the issue of a problem in higher education. Public four-year universities need to recognize that the first degree is an associate degree, not a bachelor’s degree. The associate credential will be awarded at both two-year and four-year colleges, despite and variations in the programs, which will increase competition to enrich the outcome for those enrolled. As of 2018, 17 states offer tuition-free college programs that strive to boost the enrollment rates and offer a more attainable expense for low and middle-income families. As Tennessee and Oregon were the first states to offer such programs, they had found a positive result as the enrollment figures were continuously rising.

State by state, proposals of free tuitions within community colleges are becoming unquestionably apparent. Enrollment rates have surged with the prediction of the total enrollment expecting to increase to 20.5 million students between the year of 2018 to the fall of 2027. Economist Jeff Denning had revealed that a reduction, as low as $1,000 in the price of Texas community colleges, raised enrollment rates amid students who would not have enrolled otherwise. If more states continue to follow the trend that has been exemplified by various colleges throughout the country, an advantageous outcome on the economy is inevitably going to occur. Oregon, one of the primary states to implement a free community college tuition, claims their school enrollment jumped from 1,105 to 1,558 students within a one year time period. The job market would be directly impacted by the amount of workers that would be affiliated with their associative degrees to strengthen the economy. A national approach is required within future generations to secure more students with a viable path in achieving their associates degree and ensuring a brighter future.

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