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Excitement Surrounds Obama's Proposal To Make Community Colleges Tuition Free

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- President Obama's proposal to pay for community college for working Americans has students and administrators at Philadelphia Community College cheering the concept.

Community College of Philadelphia president Donald Generals says the proposal is a recognition of the role these two-year institutions have played in the U.S. economy and the lives of their students.

"Our track record has proven that we are democracy's true equalizer," he says, "and I think people recognize that and will rally behind the president's proposal, and we can make this a reality."

Community College of Philadelphia president Donald Generals
Community College of Philadelphia president Donald Generals (credit: Pat Loeb)

The proposal, which aims to ease the financial burden for an estimated nine million students, uses a combination of federal and state funding to cover the first two years of costs for full-time and half-time students who maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average.

The plan likely won't make a difference for current students but they welcomed it, knowing it could help others who want a higher education but have been stopped by finances.

"I'll accept the free tuition," says Tamika, a nursing student at CCP, "because college is expensive."

And her friend Wayne likes the fact that it's not a complete free pass.

"If the requirement is you have to keep at least a 2.0 (GPA)," he says. "That will give people the incentive to excel."

President Obama's plan will require legislation and approval from a Republican-led Congress, something Generals thinks should be winnable.

"We need to look at it as an investment in terms of ultimately bolstering our economy and the well-being of this nation," he says. "I think those with good will will see it as an opportunity."

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