‘Free’ college opportunities debated

‘Free’ college opportunities debated

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Oregon promises to waive tuition for some students at Lane and 16 other community colleges starting in the fall of 2016.

The average Lane student graduates with over $20,000 in debt, according to the U. S. Department of Education. The Oregon Promise bill signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown on July 17, 2015 will provide tuition waivers and is said to help up to 6,000 students statewide in the first year.

There are students that think highly of the Oregon Promise program and believe that college should be free. However, there are others who believe that it is not the best solution.

“It’s going to be harder to get classes,” Wyatt Hibbard, a Lane sophomore, said referring to a potential increase in student enrollment. “Tuition fees are going to skyrocket … because everyone else is getting it for free.”

The Torch reached out to the Governor’s office, but did not get a statement in response to Hibbard’s concerns.

Hibbard also wishes that the tuition waivers would apply to older students including himself. The average age of credit students at Lane is 28 according to Lane demographic data available on the Lane Community College website.

There are numerous countries that offer free education, many of them in Europe, and some students feel that this program is a step in the same direction.

“Personally, I think college should be free anyways,” Robert Kimbrell, a Lane graduate, said.

Associated Students of LCC President Ashley Jackson is skeptical of the bill’s “last dollar in” approach and worries that it will not help students that need it the most. “It was false advertising to say ‘free college’,” Jackson said.

Students are required to pay a $50 co-pay, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and meet certain qualifications standards to receive Oregon Promise grants. They also must be within six months of high school graduation.

Jackson also went on to say that though the program is not what it could be, she did believe that it is a step in the right direction for the 2016-2017 school year.

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