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Experts question aspects of WV’s free community college tuition bill


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The free community college tuition bill backed by West Virginia’s Senate president and governor has sped through two legislative committees and is scheduled for lawmakers to possibly amend it Monday on the full Senate floor.

Senators could then vote Tuesday to send Senate Bill 284 to the House of Delegates, if normal procedure is followed.

But some experts have criticized the requirements, seen in the current version of SB284 and programs already implemented in a couple other states, that students who receive free tuition must temporarily stay in state after graduation. SB284 would make graduates repay part or all of the “WV Invests Grant” funding they received if they reside outside the state within two years of graduating.

Douglas Webber, an associate professor at Temple University in Pennsylvania who researches labor economics and economics of education, said “this creates the possibility where it’s better for you to stay in state and jobless and receiving social services than to be out of state and be gainfully employed.”

Webber’s colleague, Sara Goldrick-Rab, tweeted that the introduced SB284 was free college turned into — well, she posted the emoji image of a pile of feces with a smiley face on it. She, like Webber, criticized both the residency requirement and the drug testing requirement.

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