The Awkward Truth About ‘Free College’—It Isn’t Truly Free
In 2014, when Tennessee unveiled a statewide scholarship to cover tuition expenses at community colleges, the program was praised for making higher education possible for more people. It even inspired President Obama to pitch a similar federal program.
But as soon as more people showed up to campuses in 2015, Tennessee higher ed leaders discovered a problem: Students were surprised by the additional costs of going to college.
“‘Free college’ is not free,” explained Shanna Jackson, now president of Nashville State Community College, during a recent webinar. “It’s quite the shock to go and find out your textbook costs are $800 the first week of school.”