The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 13, 2014

States explore free community college

WASHINGTON — Several states are considering offering free tuition at community colleges, as the cost of a college education continues to climb and as high school diplomas no longer guarantee a living wage.

“Higher education for kids should not break families down” and result in a lifetime burden of debt, said Oregon state Sen. Mark Hass, a Democrat who sponsored legislation to study the viability of making tuition and fees at community colleges free to Oregon high school graduates.

In previous generations, Hass said, Oregonians could leave high school and easily find jobs in lumber mills, where they could earn a good living. But those days are gone, and jobs in auto garages, manufacturers and the service sector all require some technical training.

Hass said his bill also would help middle-class families whose children might attend community college for two years and then transfer to four-year colleges to save money.

Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber signed the bill with some reservations. While he testified for the bill last month, he questioned whether the money would be better spent on the state’s need-based scholarships for two- and four-year schools.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, is also pitching a plan to make tuition free at community colleges and colleges of applied technology.

“This is a bold promise,” Haslam said in his State of the State address in February. “It is a promise that will speak volumes to current and prospective employers. It is a promise that will make a real difference for generations of Tennesseans.”

The proposal is part of the governor’s “Drive to 55” initiative to increase the percentage of state residents with college degrees or advanced certificates from the current 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025. Haslam estimates the proposal would cost about $34 million a year, paid for by creating a new endowment from the state lottery’s reserve fund.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • 8,000 get false notice of health care cancellation ST. PAUL — More than 8,000 low-income Minnesotans received erroneous notices that their health coverage would be temporarily canceled if they don't pay up. A July 17 notice warned MinnesotaCare subscribers that they faced a four-month coverage locko

    July 28, 2014

  • ND deputy hurt in scuffle Suspect charged with assaulting, trying to disarm law officer

    July 28, 2014

  • Fergus Falls plans deer hunt Hunters are selected by a lottery, pay $20 fee

    July 28, 2014

  • Man killed in home invasion Homeowner's son in Ray, Minn., fires fatal shot

    July 28, 2014

  • Charges filed in July 8 fatal Dodge Center woman criminally charged in fatal car crash

    July 28, 2014

  • American doctor in Africa gets treatment for Ebola BOONE, N.C. (AP) — An American doctor infected with the deadly Ebola disease received intensive treatment Sunday in West Africa and was in stable condition, talking to his medical team and working on his computer, a spokeswoman for an aid group said.

    July 27, 2014

  • Salmonella Outbreak Trial [Duplicate] Trial in salmonella outbreak to start in Georgia ATLANTA (AP) — Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georg

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pitfalls emerge in health insurance renewals WASHINGTON — For the 8 million people who persevered through all the technical travails in the new health insurance exchanges and managed to sign up for coverage in 2014, their policies will probably automatically renew come November when open enroll

    July 27, 2014

  • Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas on Sunday agreed to observe a 24-hour truce in Gaza after initially rejecting a similar Israeli offer, as fighting resumed and the two sides wrangled over the terms of a lull that international diplomats had hoped c

    July 27, 2014

  • Solar car race to end at University of Minnesota MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A cross-country solar car race is set to finish at the University of Minnesota on Monday. About 10 solar cars from colleges around the world are competing in the eight-day, 1,700-mile American Solar Challenge. The race began July

    July 27, 2014