Community colleges respond to Obama's free college plan

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Community college administrators and students in the Bay Area are reacting to President Obama's ambitious plan to make community college free for American workers. He wants the government to pick up the tab and make community college affordable for everyone.

The proposal has those involved with community colleges excited, but many details still need to come out, along with the support needed from states and Republicans.

President Obama used Facebook to make a big announcement to social media's prime demographic of college students.

He's calling for the state and federal government to pay for the first two years of community college.

"Put simply what I would like to do is see the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it. That's right, free for everyone who is willing to work for it. It is something that we can accomplish and it is something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world," said President Obama.

"Work for it" means students must have a mentor, complete eight hours of community service per term, and maintain a 2.0 GPA.

Rita Cepeda is the Chancellor of the San Jose Evergreen Community College District told me she was elated to hear about the President's proposal.

"I think he gets the fact that community colleges are enormously significant to the nation," said Cepeda.

18,000 students in her district already get a good value for their education, spending $1,380 per year in fees. More than 80 percent of the students receive a state grant based on income.

Chancellor Cepeda feels a college education is now required to make it in America.

The White House estimates this will cost $60 billion dollars over 10 years.

States would be responsible for billions as well. Republicans say this sounds more like a talking point, than a plan.
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