Why Obama’s free community college plan matters to Latinos

Excitement abounds regarding President Obama’s State of the Union Address in which he discussed free tuition for all students attending community colleges from coast to coast. A brand-new Pew study revealed Latinos – nearly half of those already in college are attending a two-year school – will be greatly impacted by the proposal, which has a long way to go before coming to fruition. In 2013, data revealed 22 percent of the nation’s community college students were Hispanic. SEE ALSO: Obama’s free college tuition plan sends a ‘powerful’ message National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Member and Community College Trustee John Vargas told VOXXI, “It’s pretty huge. I was expecting a more detailed plan than what was given but in general it’s huge because it kind of introduces a discussion on a national level of universal community college for everybody.” Naturally, educators and administrators are excited about Obama’s initiative. “My colleagues and I applaud and support the President’s America’s College Promise proposal,” said Miami Dade College President Eduardo J. Padrón. “We are confident that this initiative will make a tremendous difference in college completion and further improve our nation’s economy by creating a skilled workforce.” Padrón added that the cost of college remains the greatest barrier to higher education; however, the notion of free tuition to community college is nothing new to Miami Dade College, which he said has implemented full tuition scholarships to a subset of its students. “Students should stay the course. Already, and irrespective of the President’s proposal, America’s community colleges by far offer the best education value around. They deliver affordable, high quality education and have proven that excellence can go hand-in-hand with an open door. However, for many, the costs, even low, remain a major barrier,” he stated to VOXXI. By and large, those Latino students are more likely to be defined as non-traditional or post-traditional, meaning they attend community college, enroll part-time, work an average of 20 hours or more a week and finish college in five or more years. Barriers for Latino students attending higher education include rising tuition costs and dwindling financial aid packages. “President Obama’s announcement to push for zero tuition at higher education institutions is a much-welcomed step forward in expanding access and opportunity for more students,” League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Director of Policy and Legislation Luis A. Torres told VOXXI. “With average student debt after college in the tens of thousands, President Obama is moving college affordability and access to the top of his legislative agenda. With an expired Higher Education Act in Congress, LULAC is hopeful that members of Congress seriously consider ways to maximize federal and state partnerships, as well as incentivize institutions of higher education, to make zero-tuition education a reality for all Americans.” SEE ALSO: Distance education opening roads for the Latino community Still, State of the Union addresses historically contain lofty goals and ideas that never materialize. Vargas understands the odds are against the President’s plan coming to fruition but he still says overall the effect is positive. Specifically, he hopes there is plenty of discussion regarding the two-year degree in relation to career technical education, which allows students to enter the workforce well-prepared for a successful future. Vargas said, “I think no matter what happens, if it goes through or fizzles and dies, pushing community colleges in the forefront of the discussion is significant and will have a lasting impact.”The post Why Obama’s free community college plan matters to Latinos appeared first on Voxxi.

Obama’s free community college plan could have a significant impact on Hispanics. (Shutterstock)

Excitement abounds regarding President Obama’s State of the Union Address in which he discussed free tuition for all students attending community colleges from coast to coast.

A brand-new Pew study revealed Latinos – nearly half of those already in college are attending a two-year school – will be greatly impacted by the proposal, which has a long way to go before coming to fruition. In 2013, data revealed 22 percent of the nation’s community college students were Hispanic.

SEE ALSO: Obama’s free college tuition plan sends a ‘powerful’ message

National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Member and Community College Trustee John Vargas told VOXXI, “It’s pretty huge. I was expecting a more detailed plan than what was given but in general it’s huge because it kind of introduces a discussion on a national level of universal community college for everybody.”

Naturally, educators and administrators are excited about Obama’s initiative.

“My colleagues and I applaud and support the President’s America’s College Promise proposal,” said Miami Dade College President Eduardo J. Padrón. “We are confident that this initiative will make a tremendous difference in college completion and further improve our nation’s economy by creating a skilled workforce.”

Padrón added that the cost of college remains the greatest barrier to higher education; however, the notion of free tuition to community college is nothing new to Miami Dade College, which he said has implemented full tuition scholarships to a subset of its students.

“Students should stay the course. Already, and irrespective of the President’s proposal, America’s community colleges by far offer the best education value around. They deliver affordable, high quality education and have proven that excellence can go hand-in-hand with an open door. However, for many, the costs, even low, remain a major barrier,” he stated to VOXXI.

By and large, those Latino students are more likely to be defined as non-traditional or post-traditional, meaning they attend community college, enroll part-time, work an average of 20 hours or more a week and finish college in five or more years. Barriers for Latino students attending higher education include rising tuition costs and dwindling financial aid packages.

“President Obama’s announcement to push for zero tuition at higher education institutions is a much-welcomed step forward in expanding access and opportunity for more students,” League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Director of Policy and Legislation Luis A. Torres told VOXXI.

“With average student debt after college in the tens of thousands, President Obama is moving college affordability and access to the top of his legislative agenda. With an expired Higher Education Act in Congress, LULAC is hopeful that members of Congress seriously consider ways to maximize federal and state partnerships, as well as incentivize institutions of higher education, to make zero-tuition education a reality for all Americans.”

SEE ALSO: Distance education opening roads for the Latino community

Still, State of the Union addresses historically contain lofty goals and ideas that never materialize. Vargas understands the odds are against the President’s plan coming to fruition but he still says overall the effect is positive.

Specifically, he hopes there is plenty of discussion regarding the two-year degree in relation to career technical education, which allows students to enter the workforce well-prepared for a successful future.

Vargas said, “I think no matter what happens, if it goes through or fizzles and dies, pushing community colleges in the forefront of the discussion is significant and will have a lasting impact.”

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The post Why Obama’s free community college plan matters to Latinos appeared first on Voxxi.