November 19th, 2007
03:59 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama offers plan for free community college

FORT DODGE, Iowa (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, announced Monday a proposed tax credit that he says would cover the cost of community college for most high school graduates.

"For too long policy makers in Washington have treated community colleges as a step child of the higher education system instead of essential resources for training and preparing the workers of tomorrow," Obama said at a press conference.

The presidential hopeful said the tax credit would cover the first $4,000 of college, which according to him would make community college "completely free for most Americans."

"These schools produce the lifeblood of our communities and the backbone of our workforce," Obama added. "As our changing economy demands a more skilled workforce, America's community colleges must be at the forefront of higher education and economic competitiveness."

Obama made the comments in front of students and reporters gathered at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

- CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Fred, Reston VA

    A tax credit here, but raise the taxes to pay for social security?

    The republicans will have a field day with this. I am a die-hard liberal, but even I cannot ignore the blatent hypocrisy.

    Hillary 08

    November 19, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. J. Denver, CO

    Why not put the money into scholarships so students who deserve them get the money!

    November 19, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  3. eva,RI

    I rather have this in my county than see my tax being used in Iraq for self centered politicians.....I think 200billion being asked by George Bush is enough to make some of the things like this better for everybody.....

    November 19, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  4. james,ct


    This country for long have been divided for halves and half not. I think if I see my taxes being raised for this kind of things I will be happy than see my money being wasted in a war that isn't making any sense to me, just killing people.
    I think we can get a handful employable people from community colleges than giving HIB visa to immigrants that are coming here legally or illegally and taking our jobs in or being outsourced.

    November 19, 2007 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  5. Peter,sf,california

    I think if we accept some changes that even will mean us chipping in is ok and have a peaceful and working goverment. That is all what I am asking. I am really tired of our politicians. I wanna go by my day without chaos everywhere I turn. And I think there is nothing new that I will get from Hillary, but just a bunch of another cronies in the white house.

    Barack 08!

    November 19, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. barbara,lowell,ma

    I was horrified to see how this guy was treated in the last debate. I wonder how he keeps a positive attitude and continue a very powerful and hopeful future. I think he is strong enough to lead us through. I just like him of one thing. A midst of all, a positive attitude and that makes me stronger.

    For the college thing, I think he knows what he is talking about. He attended a community college in his early years. I think we can see from him what it means if you start small them keep going and if the burden is lifted from community college we can move our kids to the next level and have more educated people than a bunch of dump and fatter nation, just like Mike gravel described it.
    I am for Obama without shame no matter what Clinton says...

    November 19, 2007 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  7. Sophia, Los Angeles


    CNN decides to post actual news about a canidates position and proposals!! I think it is a great idea and for those who suggest a scholarship for students in high school to those who only have good grades, that will not address a problem. For those students who have good grades, getting some aid is not a problem and are most likely already going to college. This money is going to encourage the youth of America to finish high school and continue to college because now at least the first two years will be covered. This insures that the whole of a generation will be much more educated and that can in no way hurt America.

    Great idea Obama!!! I just hope the hilary supporters don't come with some lame excuse as to why it might not be. After all they are the ones always crying about rallying together. Maybe Hilary should follow suit and vow to do the same if she is elected. A challenge to her supporters.......

    November 19, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  8. Lynn,tewsbury,ma

    I kinda like the idea.

    November 19, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  9. Len, Fallbrook, CA

    "The presidential hopeful said the tax credit would cover the first $4,000 of college, which according to him would make community college "completely free for most Americans.""

    Ahhhh yes, not my money so I can just give it away, but then again, he has never had a real job that requires signing the front of a paycheck, rather than just the back of one.

    November 19, 2007 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  10. james,ct

    "halves and half not" oops, I meant for haves and have not

    November 19, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  11. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    California has long provided assistance with Community College for in-state students. I, as a conservative, applaud Barack looking at tax-incentives as opposed to outright tax increases!

    I would encourage Barack to consider and embrace education choices for students MUCH earlier than high school graduation... rather... elementary, middle and high school kids: VOUCHERS.

    Allow parents to CHOOSE what school (public, private, magnet, charter, etc) to send their kids AND THE FEDERAL/STATE FUNDS. Our country continues to lament the challenges of inner-city education but does NOTHING.


    Teachers Unions.

    The Teachers Unions fought to kill Vouchers. Teachers Unions do not want parenst to have the choice AND economic means to send their kids elsewhere. Instead teachers want HIGHER pay untied to merit, and keep kids trapped in under-performing schools.

    WHY democrats do you continue to support the Unions over our children??

    November 19, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  12. Jennifer, Sanford, FL

    The idea is hardly ground breaking. Just google Dual Enrollment. At least 13 states already provide free community college courses to high schoolers willing to do the work, and all but 3 states have some version of the program. Why don't we work on improving a system already in place, rather than try to come up with something else?

    If your average high schooler can earn his AA while still in high school, then we wouldn't necessarily have to be funding 4 years of school for him – junior & senior year of high school followed by two years at CC – but rather just 2. Doesn't make a heckuva lot of sense to pay to send him to high school then pay to send him to CC, just so he can repeat the same basic work over to get that degree.

    November 19, 2007 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  13. xtina - chicago IL

    OK, this is the first thing on which I agree with Barack Obama. Don't force Americans to pay more taxes for social programs ; give tax credits instead.

    November 19, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  14. Eric Palmieri

    Excellent idea.

    Sort of the higher education form of public high schools in this country. Let's just hope that they don't turn out like high schools have...

    Banged-up and under-funded

    -Eric Palmieri

    November 19, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  15. Forest, Irvine, CA

    Anytime a politician offers free anything, hold onto your wallets. College shouldn't be free. If anything, the STATE, not the Feds, should provide the financial aid if you need it, like they already do. Then you pay it back over time when you become a productive, job holding citizen. Handouts to gain votes are always bad.

    November 19, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  16. Adam, Plano, TX

    beats the hell out of a hillary baby bond.

    November 19, 2007 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  17. AW, ottawa, OH

    I guess Obama will say once more that he DESERVES to raise some MORE TAXES!

    Why doesnt he say how much money this promise will cost the american taxpayers, and where does he get the money from again?

    Guess he is desperate to get votes from the young voters or their parents.

    November 19, 2007 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  18. Darrel Lone Rock Iowa

    There ain't no free lunch I'm Sorry. It sounds good but who is going to pay for the program? Thats what I hate about the liberal bunch. Free for who/
    the illegal aliens/ or some other special interest/ Well you all get the point and it is simple/ Free is a liberal word. How about lets earn it. It will be remember long after the free lunch line closes. Taxation with out representaion is like useing a gun to hold up a gas station. One is legal and one ain't. by the way illegal imigration is illeagal and the people we have elected seem to be blind to the laws we have. They have been blind so long we now have 25 million plus in this country and we don't have anybody in office at this point with the intestional fortitude to do any thing about it. Big corporation in the way?
    Let take our country back in the next election. The last 16 Year have been an abortion. Nothing let living!!!
    So vote for the person and not the party as both party have a foul stench about them
    Independant is the way to go!

    November 19, 2007 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  19. Brian, Syracuse NY

    It's called the College Cost Reduction and Affordability Act, and it's already happening.

    You can thank Sen. Chuck Schumer for starting it in 2001, and Ron Paul for the latest version in 2007.

    November 19, 2007 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  20. Bernard, Scotch Plains, NJ

    I love OBAMA, and I'm happy to see someone focus more on education. Community College should be free, Obama is on to something here.

    It's funny how CNN isn't saying a thing about Obama being up in Iowa now...must be killing them to have to give Obama even a little bit of fair and positive press.

    November 19, 2007 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  21. Jim Bremer

    What a great idea.

    I wonder at what point he will say that you get the credit only if you join an Islamic madrassa. Like he did.

    After all, if an Islamic madrassa can produce a great guy like Hussein Osama, shouldn't ALL the kids go there ? This place will be filled with Osamas in no time 🙂

    November 19, 2007 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  22. My Name, Our Town, MO

    I would much rather attack our biggest healthcare issue first. Anyone wonder why everyone says they are for fixing healthcare, but the biggest offender is the tobaco companies? Why is that any other product on the market that is proven to cause cancer is pulled from the market, yet tobaco gets to remain? Why not tell the big T's that they must provide a product that does not cause cancer or it does not hit the shelve. Sure we loose all the tax revenue from the sin tax, but think of what we would save on the backend. I think we as a country should focus on things that are killing us first before we go giving out freebees. This just shows that Obama lacks any real abilities. He is a follower, not a leader. He talks a good story, but has does not have a clue how you have to work the system.

    November 20, 2007 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  23. Jose Card

    I am really glad to hear Senator Obama is interested in free community college. Our country needs to invest in community college and technical schools for people who are not interested in four year college, but want to learn more beyond high school.

    I am also waiting for more plans for education offered by Governor Richardson, and hopefully some ideas from any Republican candidates. Education will save us from problems in social security, health care, national security and environment.

    If we can offer free medical school education like European countries do, it will have a positive long-term effect on our health care system. I have met people who wish they could have gone for medical education, but did not for lack of funding. What a loss for the society!

    November 20, 2007 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  24. mike, corsegold, cal

    Nothing is free, Obama.

    November 20, 2007 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  25. Kaleo, Honolulu, Hawaii

    OBAMA is what our country needs right now. I agree with the other posting...better to spend the money on AMERICANS...than to spend it fighting a senseless war!

    We need a POSITIVE CHANGE more Clinton/Bush politics!

    OBAMA 2008!

    November 20, 2007 04:00 am at 4:00 am |
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