Obama proposes free tuition for community college students

"Community colleges should be free for those willing to work for it, because in America a quality education cannot be a privilege that is reserve for a few. I think it's a right for everybody who is willing to work for it," said President Barack Obama.

President Obama spoke in Tennessee Friday, unveiling his plans to make community college free for students across America.

The plan sounds great on the surface, but it's going to take cooperation between states and the federal government, with both sides putting in money to pay for the plan.

The program would offer two years of college tuition at a community college. Students would have to maintain a 2.5 GPA in order to qualify. The plan needs approval from Congress and it must get a buy-in from the states to pay their share.

With more than 250,000 students, the Maricopa Community College System is one of the largest in the country, President Obama's plan would have a big impact on the district.

"I think it is a great idea for students, it's a great opportunity," said Lisa Henderson.

"I think people would be hanging from the rafters, it would be crazy, exciting, I don't think the parking lot could handle the amount of students that could possible sign up," said Chancis Benjamin.

With ten campuses and other facilities across the valley, district leaders estimate the colleges economic impact to be as high as 3 billion dollars.

"I think it would be worth considering," said Chancellor Rufus Glasper. Chancellor Glasper praised the President's plan, but also acknowledged it is still far away from becoming a reality. "We could handle the additional growth, but we would have to look at how we could sustain and maintain the additional funding that would be required if the number continue to grow."

At Maricopa Community Colleges current levels the Chancellor estimates the plan would cost about $150 million dollars, and the state would have to kick in more than $35 million, that is about 5 times more than what the state currently contributes.

Glasper hopes to prove that it would be money well spent. "We could demonstrate a value proposition and economic model that would say it is worth the investment and over the state would benefit, and the community would benefit, and all boats would rise," he said.

Most of the details of the plan still haven't been released, but the President has said he will detail them in his State of the Union address later this month.

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