Photo credit: Vania Andre
Photo credit: Vania Andre

BROOKLYN, (KINGS COUNTY POLITICS NEWS SERVICE) – Assembly member Rodneyse Bichotte (Flatbush, Ditmas Park) yesterday announced she introduced legislation in the assembly A9254 that would provide free community college for two years or up to two years of career and technical education.

The measure, which Queens Senator James Sanders (S6597) sponsored on the senate side, makes New York one of 11 other states that have proposed similar legislation. It also follows President Obama‘s call for free community college and legislation introduced in Congress for the policy change, which would include Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).

“I answered the President’s call,” said Bichotte, who holds several advanced engineering degrees along with being a lawamker. “President Obama understands how education can be a pathway to opportunity. Economic standing should not be a litmus test as to whether one can get an education.”

A 2015 report out of Obama’s office found that community college student demographics include about 50% of the students identified as minority and 57% as women. Additionally, 47% of students were 21 and younger, while 41% were 22-39, 40 percent are first-generation college goers and 30 percent have dependents.

“The bill strengthens an obvious fact, which is that New York will be built to lead when everyone has the opportunity to access a community college education,” said Bichotte. “Free community college tuition is a promise we must make to our young adults who are eager to learn and to contribute to our work force.”

To qualify for the tuition waiver, students would have a cumulative total of 12 months of residence in the State, possess a high school diploma or GED, and a grade point average of 2.5.

In Congress the bill proposes an appropriation of $1.4 billion in FY2016 and $79.7 billion over FY2016-FY2025 to make grants under this community college program, while in New York State, there is a proposed appropriation of $10 million.

“This Bill restores hope and aspiration for all New Yorkers, that education should not be limited to the few, but accessible to the many,” said Bichotte.

“Most importantly this legislation means community college education should not be for sale. New York must deliver on a promise, that if one works hard, plays by the rules, and receives a college degree, the American Dream is theirs for the taking,” she added.

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