Local colleges react to campaign's promise of free tuition

Local colleges react to campaign's promise of free tuition
(Source: WTOL)
(Source: WTOL)
Owens Community College (Source: WTOL)
Owens Community College (Source: WTOL)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - On the campaign trail, it has been a big promise by former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and the nominee, Hillary Clinton. They have been pushing a plan for free tuition.

It has been heard almost every time Clinton has campaigned in Ohio, but WTOL 11's Tim Miller was surprised to hear it's not getting a lot of attention on every campus.

By 2021, there would be tuition-free education, in-state, to four-year public colleges or universities, for students in a family that makes $125,000 a year or less.The campaign says that would cover more than 80 percent of families.

The plan would also help the rest of the students become debt free by the time they graduate.

Clinton's daughter Chelsea sold it to University of Toledo students last Thursday, saying "No one should ever have to pay more than 10 percent of their income back in loan repayment. That's really important to my mom."

A spokesperson at the University of Toledo says the possible free tuition hasn't really been discussed yet.

Bowling Green State University has not responded with an answer at this time.

Mike Bower, President of Owens Community College, says its on his radar.

"So it has been something that has been on the horizon for the last several decades but it's become more of a concern," said Bower.

Dr. Bower would like to see something more solid, but knows it's just a proposal right now that has many steps to take, even if Clinton wins the White House.

He says he doesn't think the plan would hurt two-year colleges like Owens, because they're so closely tied to four-year schools like UT and BGSU. And he doesn't think opening it up to almost everyone, would water down the value of a college education.

"If you made this as a national referendum, saying we're going to support that, I think it's going to open up, especially students in inner cities, you're going to see a lot of students saying, 'you know I have an opportunity now to take advantage of something that will get through to school.'"

Dr. Bower said Owens staff is always looking for ways to help their students financially. And if free tuition does happen, he said they'll be able to react quickly.
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