Legislature eyes free community college

Oregon Economics Blog

An interesting proposal to study the idea of making community college free to all Oregon students is making its way through the legislature.  This is just to study the idea but a few caveats come immediately to mind.

One, shouldn’t this benefit be means tested?  Wouldn’t the better policy be to target low income households?  It is not clear to me that we have to incentivize high income households to send their kids to college.

Two, this raises the opportunity cost of starting at a four year college.  Under this plan, the wise college degree aspirant would go to CC for two years and transfer.  To know if this is a good thing we’d want to know more about the relative success of such a plan in four year degree outcomes.  This might also have a significant impact on Oregon’s public four year universities.

Three, whether it significantly improves the high school graduation rates in Oregon which is, I presume, one of the main policy goals.