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Biden backing off free community college

Casualty of cuts to Build Back Better proposal
Posted at 3:34 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 18:50:46-04

ESSEX, Md. — For many students, a community college, like CCBC in Essex, may not be their first choice, but it’s their only choice.

“The reason I’m here is I’m one of five siblings,” said Rory Peddicord, a freshman. “I don’t have any… there was no college fund for me. It was drained so that’s why I’m here.”

The president’s ‘Build Back Better’ plan initially aimed to provide for two years of free tuition to community colleges for both associate degree and short-term workforce certification.

Here at CCBC that would have eased the load---saving students about $4,000 a year.

“You still have to have other bills like housing bills and food and all those things,” said Maya Chebet, an international student.

Signs that the National College Promise has vanished in negotiating down the $3.5 package to nearly half that has dashed the hopes of CCBC Essex President Sandra Kurtinitis.

“The opportunity for community colleges to educate everyone who comes to them without having to deal with the fact that we serve the neediest students, and it’s very, very hard for many people to afford even us would have been wonderful, would be a blessing,” said Kurtinitis. “I cross my fingers. Maybe it will still happen.”

Last year, Kurtinitis pooled money from every source possible to provide 84 percent of her students with partial or full scholarships amid the pandemic, and she says the political tug of war at play surrounding this funding is disappointing.

“Well, I’m a registered Independent, and we never bring politics into our decisions, but am I sad there there is gridlock? Yes,” responded Kurtinitis. “It’s a missed opportunity, a missed chance, for hundreds of thousands of students across this country and, certainly, at the Community College of Baltimore County.”

It appears other higher education proposals like expanding Pell grants and more money for vocational programs may survive in the cut-down version of the bill.