Several weeks ago, President Obama outlined a proposal to provide two years of community college to every student who can keep grades decent. While many were quick to attack the plan, more often than not citing cost limits, we argue affordable two-year education is an excellent and attainable idea.
Annual tuition at two-year institutions is half the tuition of four-year universities, and early estimates of the plan’s cost are around $60 billion over ten years. This sounds like a massive new expenditure in the wake of a trillion dollar deficit, but is education what should be cut from the budget? We spend over $600 billion per year on defense, and aircraft carriers carry with them a $13 billion price tag. Defense spending is undoubtedly important to American and world security, but raising the education level of millions of Americans carries tremendous importance as well.
Further, the plan is already in a trial phase of sorts in Tennessee, in which universal community college is available for all Tennessee high school graduates and 90 percent of those graduates have signed up for the new program.
Will it be hard? Will it be costly? Yes and yes. But we argue the price and effort to pay is not so high that we cannot ask our government to do the right thing.
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