Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Free College, Philanthropy, and a Program Note

Every so often I hear a question that makes me wonder why I wasn’t wondering about it already.

We’re getting a new governor shortly.  He ran on “free community college,” though it’s still unclear what that will mean in practice.

In a conversation on campus this week, someone mentioned concern about a possible impact on philanthropy.  If word of free community college spreads, will donors think that issues of access have been solved and redirect their giving elsewhere?

As Sara Goldrick-Rab has pointed out repeatedly, tuition is only one cost.  Taking it off the table -- which I support -- still leaves costs for books, transportation, daily life, and the opportunity cost of paid work not worked to make time for classes.  But potential donors may or may not be aware of that, or appreciate what it means.

So I’ll put out a call to my wise and worldly readers who live in places with well-publicized “free community college” programs.  Have you seen an impact on philanthropy one way or the other?


Along those lines, it’s worth remembering -- as this piece reminds us -- that free community college is a bipartisan issue.


Thanks to President Patricia McGuire of Trinity Wesleyan University for a shout-out in her keynote speech at NEASC this month.  Her speech is a welcome call to action to her counterparts in the four-year sector to take community colleges more seriously as educational partners.  

In a speech that references American Nazis, it’s nice to be named as being on the other side...


I’ll be taking a blogging break for the holidays, returning in the first week of January.  Best wishes to my wise and worldly readers for peace, happiness, and a 2018 much more worthy of you than 2017 was...