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KY Community College Chief Supports Obama's Free Tuition Plan

PHOTO: Students at Big Sandy Community and Technical College are among those who could benefit from President Barack Obama's proposal for two years of free tuition for community college students nationwide. The head of Kentucky's statewide system calls the idea a great investment. Photo courtesy Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
PHOTO: Students at Big Sandy Community and Technical College are among those who could benefit from President Barack Obama's proposal for two years of free tuition for community college students nationwide. The head of Kentucky's statewide system calls the idea a great investment. Photo courtesy Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
January 26, 2015

VERSAILLES, Ky. – The newly-appointed president of Kentucky's Community and Technical College System says President Barack Obama's call for free tuition would be a great investment.

Known as America's College Promise, Obama's plan would pay for two years of community college for students who keep their grades up.

In the words of Jay Box, who oversees the 16 community colleges across Kentucky, America's Promise would quickly become Kentucky's promise.

"It's an outstanding opportunity to reach those in the most need, which are primarily our low-income, working adults," Box states.

The idea is for the federal government to kick in three-fourths of the cost – an estimated $6 billion dollars a year – with the states picking up the rest.

Box says preliminary estimates, based on 19,000 first-time students, put Kentucky's cost at $7.7 million.

Obama's plan is linked to his new tax proposals, which have been rebuked by both of Kentucky's U.S. senators, Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.

Box says he plans to meet with the congressional delegation next month in Washington, to lay out his support for the idea.

"At a time when there's a cry for a better-educated workforce in Kentucky, this type of investment helps the Commonwealth of Kentucky to be able to advance and reach its goals," he points out.

Box calls the free tuition plan a gap-filler, because students could then use other forms of financial aid to cover the additional costs of college, from books to transportation.

To qualify, a student would have to attend at least half time and maintain a 2.5 grade point average.


Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY