On Jan. 20 during the annual State of the Union address, President Barack Obama proposed enacting the America’s College Promise program to make tuition for the first two years of community college free to increase graduation rates and improve middle-class economics.
The goal of the program is to help students earn the first half of their bachelor’s degree and learn basic workforce skills. If approved, the program will be implemented on a state-by-state basis. According to White House officials, approximately 40 percent of students attend community college, and if all states participate in the program, an estimated 9 million students could benefit.
“We still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need,” Obama said. “It’s not fair to them, and it’s sure not smart for our future.”
Under the program, students could, on average, save $3,800 in tuition per year. They will be eligible for the tuition waiver if they attend a community college at least half time, maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA and show steady progression toward graduating.
Director of NSU Admissions Bridget Varisco said she doesn’t foresee the program affecting NSU’s recruitment and retention rates too drastically and that she is hopeful that it will help NSU recruit new transfer students.
“We have a large number of transfer students. Maybe we can find a niche at NSU for the students who are planning on going to [a private university after completing] community college for the first two years,” she said.
In his address, Obama also stated that by the end of this decade, two in three jobs will require some higher education. Varisco said that NSU aims to recruit students from around the world who are high-achieving and highly involved in their communities and who will come to NSU to become successful.
To help prepare students for their careers, NSU created the Office of Career Development to help students find jobs and internships, participate in mock interviews, develop resumes and even find what career they want to pursue.
Associate director of Undergraduate Admissions Clyde Lewis said, “Every person who comes here should know that they get the best of both worlds. We have a vibrant student life experience that is student-driven, and that is rare to find. Students here tell us what they want, and we do our best to make it happen.”
Varisco said students should consider going to a private university because it provides a richer experience, and it is not necessarily more expensive than a community college, due to financial aid.
Approximately 94 percent of students who attend NSU receive an average of $13,199 in grants or scholarships. NSU provides more than 150 scholarships for students, who also have the option of obtaining federal aid and becoming student employees.
“We’re interested in producing students who are going to be successful. The more successful students are, the more successful we are,” Varisco said.