Free community college for two years

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Two years of free community college? That's what President Obama is proposing. (KFSN)

The White House says the program will cost the government about $60 billion over 10 years. No word yet on how the President proposes to pay for it.
Two years of free community college? That's what President Barack Obama is proposing. While students say "sign me up," others are wondering how the nation will afford it.

The idea would affect about 45,000 students in the Central Valley. The State Center Community College District Chancellor says it's a great proposal but one that would be extremely expensive in California.

Fresno City College student Vanessa Beltran told us, "I think that'd be great."

Beltran is the first of her family to go to college, which also means she's the first to afford it. We caught up with Beltran while she paid her fees for the spring semester. She says anything that would allow her to focus on her grades and not her pocketbook, would be helpful.

"It'd be easier to start off in college if you don't have to worry about tuition and just worry about books and other expenses to stay in college and school," explained Beltran.

The President's plan would pay for two years of community college. Students have to keep up 2.5 GPA, and they've got to stay on track to graduate. While all of that sounds great, the state center community college district chancellor says it's quite an expensive proposal.

Dr. Bill Stewart said, "Our state has been very progressive so it won't cost as much to do this as any other state but there's so many of us so large numbers make for a lot of money."

There's 45,000 students just here in the Valley and while the President's proposal promises to save students about $3,800 a year, the cost here is much less, about $300 a semester.

Dr. Stewart added, "Our state over the years has really supported community college students and tuition we have consistently been near the bottom and I think that's helped our state greatly."

He also hopes that some of the money will go towards career and technical education which is a fast track for employment. While he believes it would help our nation tremendously, he says he can only hope it'll happen in his lifetime.

The White House says the program will cost the government about $60 billion over 10 years. No word yet on how the President proposes to pay for it.



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