We may be witnessing the start of a movement to address the rising cost of college. The Oregon Senate approved a bill this week to study giving all Oregon high school graduates free tuition for two years at an Oregon community college.
Earlier this week, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican, made the centerpiece of his State of the State Address a call for legislation to give all high school graduates in his state free access to community colleges and technical colleges.
Policy analysts praised Haslam's proposal, which mirrors the study bill put forward by Oregon Senator Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, saying it is "big step toward a better educated work force."
In Oregon, free community college tuition for two years would appear to be a major boost to achieve the ambitious goal of 40 percent of Oregon adults having at least two years of college or technical training. The 40-40-20 plan also calls for 40 percent of the adult population to possess at least a 4-year degree and all Oregonians to achieve a high school diploma or its equivalent.
The burst of bipartisan support for free community college tuition may deflate after an analysis of the cost, as well as a comparison with the relative benefits and costs of an alternative — pumping more money into need-based student financial aid.