Student Reactions to Obama Free Community College Proposal

By Lauren Baker

Photos by Victor Aparicio

Ed. Note: In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced a proposal to reduce the cost of college for students who maintain a 2.5 GPA. Eligible students would receive free tuition, up to $3,800 per year, according to the White House website, which is 75% of the cost for community college. States that choose to participate in this federal program will receive federal funding to match their state investment to offer free community college, and will receive additional funds that they can use to invest in their educational programs as they wish.

Below, are reactions to the announcement from students at Fresno City College.

Kelly Takeda, Biology Major “My personal issues with the plan is that it merely covers the cost like a band aid, rather than lowering costs for higher education for everyone, regardless of academic level.”
Justin Boyd, Commercial Music Producer Major “I think it could be helpful for those like me who do not receive financial aid. Financial Aid told me my parents make too much money, so I have to put myself through college by working on my own at my job.”
Alyssa Nelson, Biology & Criminology Major “The idea of it sounds great, but the execution isn’t going to happen; we’re already in debt and it’s only going to put us further in debt by offering free college for the first two years. It’s kind of irresponsible because the money already isn’t there. It’s a failed plan from the start.”
Julian Ramos, English Creative Writing Major “The rest of the money should go towards textbooks, which are unnecessarily expensive, or perhaps towards funding programs such as the Extended Opportunity Programs & Services (EOPS), or Psychological Services.”

Reporter’s Note: EOPS is a service available to Fresno City College students with low-income and/or academically disadvantaged and provide academic counseling, career guidance, and college transfer counseling in addition to many other services. For more information, visit and select “Paying For College.”

Tim Haydock (he/him/his)
After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Communication from Fresno Pacific University and a Master’s in Theology and Film from Fuller Theological Seminary, Tim returned to his hometown community in Fresno. He spent over 5 years teaching courses on media production and theory at Fresno State University and Fresno Pacific University and was the academic advisor for the Fresno Pacific University student newspaper.

Tim joined his passions for storytelling, education and social justice in January, 2014 when he started running The kNOw Youth Media in Fresno. In May of 2016, Tim became Director of YouthWire, where he led four youth media programs across the state. In the two years Tim was director, YouthWire printed over 200,000 newspapers distributed in dailies across the state, sent reporters to the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, was featured in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Fresno Bee, KQED and The New York Times’ Race/Related newsletter, and led storytelling training for over 75 youth from at least 12 different communities in California.

Tim currently serves on the journalism advisory board for Fresno City College and was a New America CA 2017 Fellow, the first from the Central Valley.

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