LCC President Sees Benefits in Obama Idea of Free Tuition

LCC President John Marrin

LCC President John Marrin

One much-discussed proposal from President Obama during his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, January 20, involves raising taxes on richer Americans to reach $320B over ten years.  John Marrin, President of Lamar Community College believes the end result, free tuition for two years for community colleges, would benefit LCC and students alike.

Marrin had been asked his thoughts on the proposal by Commissioner Wendy Budxton-Andrade during one of the college’s scheduled updates for the county commissioners.  Apparently the LCC President has given the matter some thought.  He responded, “It will take a while if it’s going to be approved, but it has to move through Congress first and the states that opt in for the program need to come in with a 25% match.”  He stated he believes it’s a great idea for several reasons, “We could enhance our dual credit program with area high schools, begin work to bring back our international exchange students and help develop our athletic programs.”

Marrin explained that LCC faces competition with colleges from border states and they usually have a lower tuition fee than Lamar’s.  “If all things are equal and the cost is basically zero for students, we could see additional growth to our enrollment figures.  This is a program that would level the playing field and with regard to the quality of our educational programs, LCC is very competitive in the region.”  Marrin had noted that although LCC’s spring enrollment is holding steady, and there is still some time left on the calendar for registration, other community college systems in Colorado are seeing declining numbers, some by as much as double digits.  “Most of that drop off is from metropolitan schools and mostly attributable to the recession where people have to make a choice between work or school.”

He added that the free tuition is conditional, “Students need to maintain a 2.5 Grade Point Average and that’s not too demanding for free schooling for two years.  They must also declare an intended course of study or a pathway curriculum towards a degree or certificate.”  He added that there would still be financial aid for books, housing and other associated costs to each student in the program.  Another inducement for students is the financial help for those going on to a four year college, as the first two years of tuition is paid for when they transfer.

On another related economic matter, President Marrin said LCC continues to play a prime economic role in Lamar as the annual impact from the college amounts to $33M a year through payroll, utilities and basic educational values.  “LCC is responsible for about 5.7% of the total economy of four counties in southeast Colorado,” he explained.

Marrin invited the commissioners to attend one of the monthly Lamar City Council informal breakfasts when they’re held at the college.  He stated, “I believe arrangements are being made to host one on the first Wednesday in April.  You’re more than welcome.”

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinessChamber/Local BusinessCityCollegeCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEducationEmploymentFeaturedPoliticsProwers CountySchoolYouth


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