Hoosiers weigh in on President Biden’s free community college proposal

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — President Joe Biden’s $1.8 trillion American Families Plan could change the future for students in community college.

“Helping future generations be able to achieve their educational and financial goals for the future, it sounds like a no-brainer to me,” said Andrew Gillespie, who is a student at Ivy Tech Community College.

“We’re all very happy with the fact that President Biden is elevating community colleges in the role they play in our communities,” said Dr. Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech Community College.

Of the $1.8 trillion bill, $109 billion would be targeted at community college for all Americans. The plan, which was released on Wednesday, would cover two years of tuition at community colleges. It would also increase Federal Pell Grant awards for low-income students and program funding for historically Black colleges and universities.

Many students at Ivy Tech Community College say even though the state of Indiana is already providing a lot of financial aid they’re still excited about this plan.

“It would be good to get free two-year college for everybody out there if we could,” said Jacob Otto, who is a student at Ivy Tech Community College.

“Just going through a normal four-year school, the price has skyrocketed just in the past 30 years that you would have to be earning a lot of money to be able to afford it,” Gillespie said.

Others say, it might not be completely great.

“I do have a concern that it could devalue an associate’s degree just because now everyone can get it and so having one may not mean as much,” said Wilson Daugherty, who is a student at Ivy Tech Community College.

Ellspermann says she believes two years of free community college is possible.

“It certainly is a possibility and I think it will be for many to debate in this country how and if it can happen,” she said.

She says conversations about supporting community colleges in the country is a step in the right direction.

“We’re excited about the attention that community colleges are getting and that conversation that will happen about how do we ensure more Americans have this ability to complete those important credentials.”