By Lightner Callahan

Senior Ashleigh McCoy proposed a bill that would provide Texas residents with free community college tuition. Although there was significant opposition, the bill was passed.

McCoy’s bill centers around a common aspect of any college – the finances. She has proposed a bill that requires free community college to be given to all residents of Texas.

A community college is a non-residential junior college offering courses to the people living in a specific place. Community colleges, unlike four-year colleges, have the ability to teach classes that compare to real-life situations; English as a second language, skills retaining, community enrichment options, and cultural identity. Community colleges also provide transfers to four-year colleges, a higher rate of affordability, updated relevance, and often partner with different industries, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

The American Association of Community Colleges states that almost half of all undergraduate students in the United States go to community colleges. Those who do go to these colleges have the ability to educate themselves at their own pace, and over however many years that they choose.

The bill McCoy proposed outlined a series of things that are specific to bill 157, called provisions. These provisions act as the requirements if the bill were to be passed. They state; “any citizen of the United States that has lived in the state of Texas for at least 12 months shall be eligible for free college at any community college in the state, this free education shall not extend to housing, textbooks, or any other extra supplies needed for class, and that four year colleges shall not follow these guidelines.”

McCoy could relate to the topic because she’s been researching colleges since early in her high school career.

“Well, I am actually going to college next year and I’ve been looking at the prices since about junior year and it really just blows my mind how much it costs…” McCoy said.

McCoy knew that this was a topic that isn’t normally mentioned, but is still important. She mentioned that other states such as Tennessee, New York, and Rhode Island have implemented similar plans, and that Texas could join them in paving their way for other places.

McCoy raised points like; “it’s hard for lower-class people to afford higher-class education, a financial burden will be lifted of so many people’s backs, and the fact that an associates degree is becoming more and more needed.”

“If we don’t do anything about these people’s financial situations, we are ignoring all the potential that those people have to help and better our community.” McCoy said.

Kelly Frazier, a junior delegate opposed to bill 157, brought up the economical aspect of it.

“Until we fix the inflammation of the economy itself, [the cost of providing free community college] will just keep hurting the government.” Frazier said.

Frazier pointed out that passing this bill could result in higher taxes for citizens, a struggling economy, and could place education in a bad light, causing people to become frustrated.

“College should be a privilege, not a given.” Frazier said.

McCoy ended her presentation with a quote from one of our forefathers. She quoted Benjamin Franklin in saying,

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”