To Freeze or not Freeze Tuition: The Community College Question

The cost of a college education has risen rapidly over the last three decades. In fact, according to the Bloomberg Report, the overall cost of a college degree has risen a whopping 1,120 percent since 1978. This rate of increase is nearly double that of medical care costs and has outpaced housing costs by threefold. The exorbitant cost of college has many people concerned that higher education is beyond their means, and rightfully so. As a result, many politicians in Washington, D.C., as well as state-level officials, are examining ways they can help curb the exponential growth of college costs in order to make higher education more affordable for more people.

Source: Bloomberg

Ohio Plans to Freeze Tuition
 
For those for whom college is too expensive, some states have launched plans to freeze tuition. In Ohio, House Bill 484 seeks to hold tuition rates steady while students complete their degrees. The guaranteed tuition rate would be good for a specified period of time, most often two or three years. The cost of tuition a student pays in their first year of study would remain constant over his or her tenure at the school, making their college studies more affordable and increasing the likelihood that they will stay in school and graduate.
 
Supporters of House Bill 484 maintain that the program will encourage more first-time students to enter college and obtain a degree. Additionally, they argue that more students will enroll full-time, thus shortening the timeline to...
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Christian Parks, a Christian student attending Thomas Nelson Community College in Virginia, has filed a lawsuit against his school for prohibiting him from preaching on campus. According to the Christian Post, Parks’ argument is that the school violated his “fundamental rights to free speech, free exercise of religion, due process, and equal protection of the law.” The lawsuit further contends that the school prohibited the plaintiff from preaching on campus for fear that his religious views would offend others and prompt complaints.

 
The college, which is part of the larger Virginia Community College System, maintains a specific policy regarding student demonstrations. In order to stage a demonstration on campus, students are required to be a member of an on-campus student organization and must get permission to pose a demonstration at least four days in advance. The school maintains that the issue at hand is not regarding what Mr. Parks was saying on campus, but that he did not follow proper protocol by failing to get permission to speak ahead of time. Parks’ legal team, the conservative-leaning Alliance Defending Freedom disagrees. Joining the ADF in supporting Mr. Parks’ complaint is the Virginia Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which released a statement saying that students deserve a first-rate college education, “which is impossible without a free exchange of ideas on campus.”
 
An Anti-Free Speech Trend
 
In March 2014, a group of professors at the University of California at Santa Barbara confronted a student who was...
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A recent study shows that one out of every ten community college students lose nearly all of their credits upon transferring to a four-year institution. In fact, just 58 percent of students who being their studies at a two-year institution report having more than 90 percent of their credits transferring to a baccalaureate program at a four-year college or university. As a result, a large number of students who dream of obtaining an undergraduate degree never get one because the credits they worked so hard to obtain do not count at their new school.
 
An Uphill Battle
 
Students who begin their post-secondary education at a community college are already less likely to graduate with a bachelor’s degree than their peers who begin study at a four-year institution. This is not to say that community colleges are somehow failing their students, rather, it is most likely life events that curtail a student’s educational aspirations. Family issues, financial difficulties, or changes in job or childcare availability are just a few common issues that force community college students to put their studies on hold. Unfortunately, the already narrow likelihood that a student will get a bachelor’s degree is further diminished when they take a break from school to attend to life’s pressing issues.

 
Even when students are able to stick with it and collect enough credits to transfer, they often discover that many of their credits will not be counted at their new school....
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It’s no secret that Americans are lagging behind other industrialized nations in terms of attaining a post-secondary degree. Losing the brain battle is concerning in and of itself, however, many politicians are also concerned about a workforce that may not have the necessary knowledge and skills to compete in the global market. To address this issue, legislators in some states are proposing plans that would make tuition at public community colleges free for all students, regardless of income.
 
Advantages of Zero-Tuition Programs
 
Clearly, free tuition makes college much more affordable for students. At a time when college tuition costs are higher than ever, being able to take advantage of such savings could encourage untold numbers of college hopefuls to enroll in classes at their local community college. Of course, with a college education comes improved knowledge, an expanded skillset, and better marketability for jobs.
 
Additionally, getting young people to go to college is a means to reverse the trend of income inequality in this country. With more and more of the nation’s wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, getting a college degree can help improve the economic situation of millions of young people that are the future of this country’s workforce. The better educated they are and the more skills they have, the more in-demand they will be and the more money they will make. As a result, upward mobility becomes much easier and the middle class expands.

 
Furthermore, providing a tuition-free education addresses,...
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Part of the college experience today is learning with, and learning from, people different from ourselves. However, in the past, some colleges were racially segregated - particularly in the South - until desegregation began in the 1950s and increased diversity at college campuses. And while some colleges today are for specific populations, such as women, in general, college campuses are bastions of racial, ethnic, religious, and social diversity. This diversity lends itself to an enhanced educational experience, better preparation for working for companies with diverse employees, and greater understanding of others. But where are the most diverse community colleges located? We collected data from community colleges in each state and analyzed it to determine how much diversity exists.

 
Diversity Scores of Community Colleges
 
In order to appropriately compare the diversity of community colleges, we mined student data and calculated diversity scores for each state. Specifically, we were interested in the presence of more than one ethnic group on campus. Our formula determines the likelihood that any two students at a college are from different ethnic groups. Scores closer to zero indicate less diversity on campus, while a score closer to 1 indicates more diversity on campus. For example, a college exclusively for African-American students would have a diversity score of zero even though the student body is comprised of an ethnic minority, because other ethnic groups would not be present on campus. Conversely, a college with five or six ethnic groups on campus would have...
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