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Southern Ill. community college reacts to First Lady Biden’s ‘college promise’

Updated: Apr. 19, 2021 at 5:11 PM CDT
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ULLIN, Ill. (KFVS) - On Monday afternoon, April 19, First Lady Jill Biden spoke in Northwest Illinois about the “college promise,” a free community college tuition program.

Biden spoke at Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, Ill.

Sauk Valley is planning to offer free tuition for community service to their students. The First Lady has been pushing for free community college for all.

Biden, a former community college professor herself, has been advocating for free community college for all.

In the Heartland, one community college president believed free community college would benefit their region.

“The idea of free college is a wonderful idea, I think, for our community, residents and students,” said Tim Taylor, president of Shawnee Community College.

He believed that it would be a way to draw more people into higher education.

“It’s one of the best and most exciting ways for students to get an accessible, affordable and attainable higher education degree,” said Taylor.

He explained how, currently, we are in a knowledge-based environment.

“We’re actually having to apply learning in a highly technical environment. And it’s pretty clear in a knowledge economy students need to have education beyond what they can attain in high school. So free community college provides them with those opportunities,” said Taylor.

In many community colleges, tuition and fees make up well over a third of the revenue. That would not go away. President’s Biden plan would have the federal government pick-up the tab.

“Colleges are going to get the tuition and fees for the programs, so it shouldn’t affect us from that standpoint. In fact, it has the potential to increase our enrollment and really help the college from that perspective,” said Taylor.

He said this idea does spark interest.

“It’s an exciting possibility. I think pay attention to what’s developing. There’s over 320 promise programs in the country right now,” said Taylor.

If you have ideas, Taylor urged you to do contact your local congressmen to voice what you prefer.

“I think the idea would be to communicate with your local congressman, and let them know what you prefer so that we can get a law that makes sense for southern Illinois,” said Taylor

And if free community college does happen, this is what Shawnee Community College is going to do: “We’re going to do our best to make sure every community resident within our area has the opportunity to come and attend and get a high quality education from Shawnee Community College,” said Taylor.

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