Local Politics

SMCC Students Share Opinions On Free Community College

SMCC Campus, Photo by Rachel Guthrie

Last week I wrote an article about how free community college will be offered to those impacted by the pandemic. Students who graduated high school between 2020 and 2023 can receive two years of free community college, as long as they are enrolled full time at any of Maine’s seven community colleges.

As a 2018 high school graduate, I myself am not eligible, even though my academic experience has been impacted by the pandemic. I decided to ask my fellow SMCC students what their thoughts on this initiative are.

Out of ten respondents, 60% did not qualify for free community college, while 40% did. 75% of respondents said they would benefit from receiving free community college.

Next I asked my classmates what their thoughts on the initiative was. Many respondents found it was unfair. One respondent wrote “I feel like 2018-2019 students should be qualified. We also suffered from the pandemic. It’s just not fair in my opinion. I know TWO students that attended SMCC that are now HOMELESS because of Covid. It’s not fair.”

“Who couldn’t benefit from free college? Is it going to end in 2023? If so, that’s horribly stupid and should (and will) cause a huge outcry,” said another respondent. “I believe free community college will be a positive for our state’s economy no matter the short-term cost.”

“I understand why they’re limiting it to classes of 2020 and after, but I’m 1. also affected by the pandemic and 2. also poor,” said another respondent. “Now everyone else gets a free ride and I’m still saddled with a pretty significant bill. A little unfair, if you ask me.”

“A lot of people graduating in the class range for the bill have been affected in some way by Covid,” said another respondent. “I know me and many of my acquaintances were unable to get jobs as we had immunocompromised family members.”

Other respondents felt the bill was a step in the right direction in getting affordable education for all. “I believe it’s a great way to help those who wouldn’t be able to afford school in general, and I think it would help people pursue their dreams,” said one respondent. “For me, I think the initiative is smart and gives a great opportunity, although there could be more done to help future classes.”

Another respondent wrote “It seems like a great step in the right direction, but I think it should be for everyone instead of the limited scope it has.”

Another wrote “I’m happy that people can have the opportunity to get college free!”

“It’s pretty cool, I don’t really care if I still have to pay for it because I signed up for school before that was a policy,” said another respondent. “I believe it could help a lot of people.”

I personally hope that this bill will pave the way to free education for all in the future. I’m excited for those that will benefit from this.

Categories: Local Politics

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