A college education can be a gateway to more career options, a higher salary and a better life. But for many students the cost of college tuition makes it impossible to attend even a subsidized public school. Some community colleges offer free tuition programs that give these students, and others who wish to save as much money as possible, an alternative to student loan debt or going directly into the workforce.
Options for Students
Free tuition at a local community college gives students another option after high school. These programs are broadly available, with most community college free tuition programs using relatively basic eligibility guidelines. For example, they may require students to hold a high school diploma, maintain a C average at the college and perform community service each semester. In exchange, students get an education that doesn't require them to take out loans. For students who could afford tuition at a public or private college, free community colleges may still be more appealing as a first step toward an advanced degree from another school.
Free tuition at community colleges allows all types of students to attend, regardless of income level. Because income is often tied to other demographic factors, including race, religion and family history, this means that a free-tuition program opens the door for a more diverse student body. Students from different backgrounds can share their experiences and viewpoints both in and outside the classroom.
State and local governments have the task of funding community colleges. One reason they may opt to fund a free tuition program is to increase the pool of local skilled labor. Community college graduates bring new skills and knowledge to the workforce and can fill positions that require specialized skills.
A larger consequence of a more skilled workforce and more college graduates in the population is a trend toward greater economic development. Communities with a higher percentage of college graduates collect more tax revenue and attract higher-paying jobs to the area. The skilled labor force of community college graduates also reduces the demand for entry-level jobs, leaving them open for unskilled workers and reducing unemployment at the lowest end of the economic spectrum.