President Barack Obama’s plan, announced last Thursday, to expand community college funding nationwide could have a significant impact on Gateway Community College, located in downtown New Haven.
America’s College Promise — the initiative’s official title — would cover two years of tuition for community college students who maintain at least a 2.5 GPA. Most community colleges are two-year institutions.
“It’s something that will manifest in a very revolutionary idea,” Evelyn Gard, director of public relations at Gateway Community College, said. “We understand the philosophy behind it, and, as a community with 70 percent of students on financial aid, we see the need.”
The federal government would foot 75 percent of the initiative’s bill, an estimated $60 billion a decade.
But before it has any impact on Gateway or other nearby community colleges, the proposed legislation must first get through a divided Congress.
“We will be supportive of any efforts to expand college access,” said Jennifer Alexander, CEO of ConnCAN, an organization that seeks to advocate for and improve Connecticut’s public schools.
She added that students need to be supported in the years before college so that they are prepared for challenges they may face when they arrive.
Leaders of New Haven Promise — an organization that organizes scholarships covering up to full tuition at a Connecticut public two- or four-year college or university — were also highly supportive of the Obama administrations proposal.
“This [plan] is an excellent step in the right direction,” said Patricia Melton, the organization’s Executive Director. “Affordability is a pressing issue for students and families throughout the country as it is here and this policy, this step forward, by the Obama administration raises the visibility of these issues,” Melton said.