Sunday, January 25, 2015

When Free Tuition Meets the Next Recession - Matt Reed, Inside Higher Ed

In reflecting some more on the free community college plan that President Obama has announced, I’m concerned about its when the next recession hits. It’s structurally fragile. Community college enrollments tend to be counter-cyclical to the economy. When the economy goes down, enrollments go up, and vice versa. That makes sense, if you think about it. For traditional-age students, parental income is a major factor in choosing a college. When that income is reduced or eliminated, Faraway State University becomes inaccessible, and the local community college suddenly looks pretty good. For adults thinking about coming back to school, the opportunity cost of higher education is lowest when jobs are scarcest. t’s one thing to choose between going back to school and working; it’s another to choose between going back to school and being unemployed.

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