It seems 2015 will possible be President Barack Obama year if the plans he are proposing are enacted upon. From his executive plans on immigration announced late last year earning him a favorable response among Latinos, the president has made another announcement that will possibly do him some good after earning himself a not so good reputation during 2014.
Last week, in an announcement to all Americans President Obama made a challenge of sorts that could help millions of Americans across the country obtain a higher education. The president proposed to pay for two years of community college for those who are willing to work for it. The proposed act to pay for two years of community college could have a huge effect on the lives of millions of Americans, but the proposal could be felt even moreso among Latinos within the country.
On Friday, at Pellissippi State Community College in Tennessee the president said the plan on offering two years of college for free was a way to help the United States of America become more competitive with the rest of the world.
“America thrived in the 20th century in large part because we made a high school education the norm, and then we sent a generation to college on the GI Bill,” said President Obama, “But eventually, the world caught on. The world caught up. And that’s why we need to lead the world in education again.”
If the plan is put into motion, Latinos within the country could feel the benefit.
According to a study in 2012 by the Pew Hispanic Center, Latinos have become the largest minority not only in the country itself but across college campuses across the nation. The study revealed that 16.5% of college students within the U.S. were of Latino background. Within two-year colleges, Latinos make up one quarter of the enrollees and will continual to grow.
Meanwhile, in a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau back in 2013 is revealed that enrollment of Latinos into college had increased in-between 2011 and 2012 by an estimated 324,000. What the report also showed is that, there were more Latinos graduating from high school and entering college than white Americans.
While the increase of Latinos entering college is a good sign of progression, there is still a high number of Latinos not completing college despite the high enrollment rate.
From the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau reports it showed that while there were Latinos enrolling into college there was a low percentage of Latinos graduating from college compared to their non-white counterparts.
In a 2014 report from Excelencia in Education—a non-profit organization that provides data analysis on the educational status of Latinos, and promotes educational and institutional practices that will support their academic achievement—it revealed that only 20% of Latinos across the nation completed a post-secondary degree among the estimated 36% of Americans in the country who earned a college degree.
From the 2012 Pew report, 112,000 Latinos earned their associates degree from a two year college while 140,000 Latinos earned their bachelor’s degree from a four year college. So what would keep Latinos from pursuing their four year degree? Or what would make Latinos drop out from pursuing their degree.
One significant reason as to why Latinos may stop at a two year degree or stop pursuing a degree at all may be due in part to costs. For a two year college students are expected to pay about three-thousand a year for in-state. For a four year college, public in-state costs can be about eight-thousand a year while out-of-state can cost up to twenty-thousand dollars. For a private four year college students can be expected to pay close to thirty-thousand.
For some Latino students, obtaining financial aid may be impossible due to their legal status since you must be an American citizen to be eligible for any financial aid. Another factor, the cost along with the daily cost of living may far too much of a burden for students to obtain an education.
According to Obama Administration officials, if the president’s proposal is enacted they are projecting that the federal and state government could pay for the entire tuition costs at community colleges nationwide for two years. The governments could pay for the education of an estimated 9 million people around the U.S. who choose to enroll. Early projections predict that over a ten year period, the program could cost $60 billion.
But is it worth the cost?
In hindsight it could be.
By allowing everyone access to an education, even a two year one, it could benefit those in who feel trapped in poverty an opportunity to break free from it. A two year degree may not get far, but it can open more doors that may already be closed to some who do not go passed a high school degree. Permitting everyone a fair chance at a college education could possibly shift the economic disparity of the classes, and possibly give the working class a more affordable living lifestyle.