Video: MSU Hosts Policy Discussion on “Free Community College Tuition” Plan

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – College and University administrators from across the region gathered in Starkville on Tuesday to discuss the future of higher education.

President Obama recently announced a plan to offer free community college tuition to all Americans. Mississippi State University hosted a conference to begin a regional conversation about how the proposal could affect the next generation of students.

“If America is going to regain being #1 in the world in adult degree completion, we’re going the wrong way,” says Dr. Stephen Katsinas, the Director of the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama.

Dr. Stephen Katsinas is the Director of the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama. He was one of the featured speaker’s asked to discuss President Obama’s proposed plan to offer free community college tuition.

“We’re talking about the the national issue from a very state and local perspective, trying to be objective about it and just go over what the proposal entails and go over the merits of it,” says Tyson Elbert, Education Policy Fellowship Program Coordinator at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government.

Katsinas says research shows that the number of Americans who complete a degree is on the decline. More and more funds are being divested from higher education and institutions must now look for new ways to get people back into college.

“The free community college tuition plan that the President proposed is something we should consider, particularly since it has some provisions for the state to get the three federal dollars it requires them to maintain the effort on the one state dollar,” says Katsinas.

Katsinas helped conduct a 2013 national survey which found 14 states failed to increase state appropriations for higher education. Twenty-two states remained the same or decreased in funding. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed also say they don’t have a long-term budget plan needed to increase degree completion.

The research also shows by the end of the decade, two out of three job openings will require some higher education.

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