• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

Title

Friday Fragments

Free tuition; expenses beyond tuition; young adults and politics.

May 3, 2019
 
 

Free tuition (for low-income students) has finally come to Brookdale!

New Jersey introduced free tuition for students from families with household income below $45,000 for the Spring semester, but it included only 13 of the 19 community colleges in the state.  Those of us among the six excluded colleges were a little miffed. People in every county pays state taxes, but only people in certain counties get the state benefit? It didn’t seem right.

This week, Governor Murphy announced that there’s enough money left in this year’s allocation to bring the remaining six colleges into the fold.  Free tuition has come to Brookdale!

New Jersey is an expensive state: the average household income here hovers around $75,000.  (In Monmouth County it’s even higher.) An income cap of $45k leaves a lot of deserving and struggling people out in the cold. And as Sara Goldrick-Rab would correctly note, it only covers tuition, which is far from the only cost facing students. A lot of parents who don’t read the fine print, but who consider themselves struggling, may be irked to discover that they’re too “rich” for the benefit, but still too broke to cover the cost of attendance.

Still, it’s a foot in the door.  If we can convince the state to fund it to a more representative income cap, it could make a real difference.  It’s nowhere near where it could be, but it’s a welcome start.

--

This story does a nice job of illustrating why free tuition, in itself, may not be enough.  It’s about a student at the University of Florida who had a baby in her freshman year. She’s about to graduate, thanks in large part to the help she got with childcare, food, and housing.

We’re not there, but I hope that someday, we are.  There’s just too much talent being left on the table.

--

One of the genuine pleasures of The Boy being almost-18 is that now when we talk about politics, he has a stake. He knows that he’ll be able to vote in 2020, so he feels like his opinion actually matters for the first time.

It’s fun, too, because while there’s a family resemblance in our worldviews, his is definitely his own.  He’s not afraid to challenge me, or to make distinctions between us. I’m encouraging him; my view of parenting has always been that the point is to raise them to the point that they are their own, fully capable adults.  He’s rushing towards that.

The Girl has long been a political sort, but TB has largely shied away from it until the last six months or so.  (The one exception was the March for our Lives in D.C. For obvious reasons, he has a strong personal stand on school shootings.)  But now that he sees the relevance, he’s finding his way. And I get to veer between “Dad mode” and “Professor mode,” alternately encouraging him to develop his own thoughts and dropping in some history or the occasional “have you thought about.” 

It’s a role I’ve been training for since basically forever.

World, there’s an increasingly formidable almost-adult on the verge of storming the future.  You’re going to love him. We already do.

Read more by

Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.

 

Back to Top