Pennsylvania Community Colleges Could and Should Be Free

Rep. Napoleon Nelson

I have thought a lot lately about secondary education, the opportunities, its affordability, and how to improve the abilities of Pennsylvanians to improve their position in life.

As a parent of two teenagers, I know how essential it is to set a good example, to prepare my children to be fully capable adults, and to remind them of the importance of keeping their promises.

My wife and I invest in them, we surround them with family, and we make sure that they get up every morning and go to school, their summer jobs, etc.

My oldest is a high school student. He attends our local trade school, but his next steps after high school have not yet been determined.

He may continue in an apprenticeship program, but he also plans to pursue higher education, as will almost 64% of high school graduates in the Commonwealth.

For many, obtaining a diploma or certificate beyond a high school diploma will be the expectation of future employers.

Unfortunately, the costs of higher education have increased much faster than the increases in starting salary. The price to pay for further education often becomes the deciding factor when choosing a career path.

If this trend continues, our community will be short of a talented core of nurses, social workers, first responders, mechanics and many other vital professionals, as the cost of training in these areas has increased too fast, too. quick.

It is not a problem without a solution. In fact, we already have a solution, a solution that more than 250,000 young people, veterans, job seekers and ordinary people like you and me in Pennsylvania used for more profitable learning last year.

Community colleges are ideal for residents looking for a flexible and affordable program. These invaluable institutions offer courses that allow students to work or become parents while they learn. You can start the path to a four-year degree or earn an associate’s degree or certificate. Maybe you just want to learn more in a particular area.

Despite more affordable tuition fees than traditional four-year colleges, Pennsylvania has the sixth highest average cost of community colleges in the country, making the benefits of community colleges even more inaccessible to many aspiring Pennsylvanians.

Like our K-12 schools, community colleges are a natural extension of public education because the money we spend on community colleges benefits the entire community.

US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona highlighted the “return on investment” for supporting community colleges during a recent visit to Montgomery County Community College. “It makes budgetary sense,” he told the audience. “For every dollar spent, there is a return on investment of $ 4.30. This is economic growth at its best.

It’s a problem with a solution.

Community colleges are such a valuable part of public education that 25 states are already promoting community college opportunities free of charge to their residents. The Red States and Blue States are currently investing in their own children and growing up because of it.

Federal lawmakers in Wisconsin, Virginia, Michigan and Washington recently came together to introduce the America’s College Promise Act, which would require the federal government to cover 75% of tuition and fees as long as the state would take care of the rest.

If adopted and implemented here, sons and daughters of Pennsylvania would have access to free community college.

United States Representative Madeleine Dean of Montgomery County has long advocated for such a wise investment in education. “As a former university professor, students have often told me that they are worried about the enormous burden they would have to take on in order to acquire the skills necessary to enter the workforce,” he said. she declared. “The America’s College Promise Act will change that. By making community college an affordable choice, students will have access to the opportunities they deserve. It is an investment for the next generation, like my grandchildren.

As the State Representative in Montgomery County and Trustee of Montgomery County Community College, I am proud to announce new legislation that would ensure Pennsylvania is doing our part to respond at this time. If and when the America’s College Promise Act is signed, my bill will make the possibility of a tuition-free community college a reality.

Call your local congressman and senator and tell them you support the America’s College Promise Act. Then call your state representative or state senator and tell them to support my Pennsylvania College Promise legislation.

Representative Napoleon Nelson represents the 154th Legislative District of Montgomery County.

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