Friday, July 24, 2015

A test of ‘free’ tuition

Register Guard
July 24th, 2015


If Oregon is serious about its goal of having 80 percent of high-school graduates earn a two- or four-year college degree by 2025, and if the state intends for its citizens to be prepared for well-paid jobs requiring training and skills, the doors to community colleges will need to be opened as wide as possible. On Monday Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill that should make it easier for students to afford a community college education — though whether it’s the fairest and most effective approach will remain in doubt until after it’s tried.
Senate Bill 81, sponsored by Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, creates the Oregon Promise program, which is intended to provide “free” community college tuition for 4,000 to 6,000 students. The quotation marks are needed because the tuition wouldn’t really be free — a $10 million state appropriation would pay it. And even those students who qualify for the tuition subsidy would have to find ways to pay the other significant costs of attending community colleges.

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