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OCC officials like Obama's plan for free community college

Onondaga Community College

Officials at Onondaga Community College like President Barack Obama’s proposal to allow students to attend two years of community college for free.  

Amy Kremenek, vice president of human resources and external relations at OCC, points to the statistics of who attends the two-year college in Syracuse to show how a program like this would be valuable.

"Sixty percent of our students are low-income students. About half of them receive Pell financial aid through the feds, and about 60 percent are first generation college students, so the first person in  their family to go to college," she said.

Kremenek also notes that many students at campus are taking a full-time credit load, while also working full- or part-time jobs.  

Kremenek says the president’s plan, which would require students to keep at least a 2.5 grade point average, would allow those students to focus more on school work.

She believes this would open the door for more people to attend school, because they don’t have to include OCC’s $5,000 a year tuition, when looking at the pros and cons of a college degree.

“It may take, particularly those who really may not see the light at the end of the tunnel, that if there is this program, that there’s no reason why I can’t do this,” said Kremeneck. “And if it takes away one more barrier from a student to see what’s possible, then it’s a good thing.”

Obama’s plan would have to be approved by Congress, and states would have to opt in. It would be jointly funded through the state and federal governments. Kremenek says OCC has the capacity to handle any extra students that such a program would create.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.