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Selling Americans on free community college

U.S. Education Secretary tours CCBC-Catonsville
Posted at 3:58 PM, May 03, 2021

CATONSVILLE, Md. — The value of a community college education will come in the form of jobs for many of these students at the Community College of Baltimore County-Catonsville, and Sydney Parks of Hereford couldn’t beat how much it cost her.

“Two years? We could be up to $26,000, but if I think about it, I got all of that for free here,” said Parks.

In a bid to help families during the pandemic, the college provided an estimated $35 million in scholarships.

“81 percent of our students were able to attend CCBC with full or partial scholarships,” said CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis.

The success of those programs drew U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to campus to pitch a similar program on a national scale.

“It’s like the American Families Plan if it were alive,” said Cardona when asked why he chose to visit here.

It is a pitch to help families, while helping to grow jobs.

“The goal of having two years of community college paid for for anyone who wants it after high school,” explained Cardona as he spoke with students.

Initial estimates for the plan, along with proposed tax cuts, suggest it would cost $1.8 trillion.

“I know the price tag is something that gets brought up a lot,” said Cardona. “I know the earning potential for students graduating community college is 21 percent higher than high school graduates.”

And what better way to try to sell congress on a plan, which has, in some ways, already been put into practice at CCBC Catonsville?

“That’s why we will all be able to succeed no matter what career we go into, because we have this support system here to teach us how to support ourselves and to support others and our peers,” Parks told the secretary.

“I want that 60 seconds recorded for a PSA for the president,” he replied.

Cardona also visited a child care center onsite at the community college supporting another proposed measure in the president’s plan, which would limit child care expenditures to seven percent of a family’s income.