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RCC education free?

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By Staff Editorial

By Staff Editorial

Society tells us that anything worth having is worth working for. So we work hard and even though enrollment fee increases are a hassle, we continue to pay them in the hopes that someday we’ll earn that money back.

Although many struggling students and penny-pinched parents would like a college education to be free, this is not reality. Today, college is a luxury that society feels we must work for. Our nation’s government only has to get us as far as high school and then its job is done. However, RCC is working towards guiding more graduating high school students into college through financial assistance. This is a noble goal and if we as a country want our nation to prosper, then we need to prepare those who will one day drive the economy.

What bothers us, however, is how RCC is going about recruiting more college students. In 1996, RCC randomly chose fifth grade students enrolled in Riverside County School Districts and made them part of a program called “Passport to College.” Their selection was not based upon financial need or ethnic diversity. The scholarship did not address disturbing trends in college enrollment, such as the disproportionate representation of non-whites and the economically disadvantaged. Furthermore, scholarship recipients didn’t do any footwork to earn their award. They didn’t hunt down obscure scholarships on the Internet nor did they have to hassle with college administrators. In essence, RCC handed them their college education on a silver platter.

As long as the selected fifth graders remain enrolled in one of the school districts mentioned above through 2004, graduate from high school with a 3.3 grade point average, completed the FAFSA, and an RCC Scholarship Application, all they have to do is show up on the first day of class.

That’s right; the program Passport to College sends recent high school graduates to RCC for free. But wait, it gets better.

Four universities stated that they will provide additional scholarships for Passport to College students who meet their enrollment requirements and transfer from RCC as a junior in the fall of 2006.

California Baptist University and La Sierra University will provide a two-year scholarship for $2,500 per year to Passport to College students. University of Redlands will also provide a two-year scholarship for $5,000 per year. Loma Linda University also threw its hat in, but the dollar amount is still to be determined.

UC Riverside was also providing a two-year scholarship for $1,500 per year, but has recently pulled out because of expense and overcrowding. Only those who are currently in the program will receive scholarships from UCR.

What concerns us isn’t the fact that a group of students are receiving preferential treatment, but the fact that RCC didn’t necessarily select the students with the greatest need. It just doesn’t make any sense to give people a free ride to college who could quite possibly afford to go without financial assistance. Furthermore, the Passport to College should lead to the enrichment of local universities by increasing the diversity of the student population.

Where was this “Passport to College” when we attended fifth grade? College should be free for everyone, but unfortunately society does not agree with us. College is free in many European nations; why not the United States? We are willing to spend $200 billion on the war in Iraq and give tax cuts to the rich, but we can’t afford to provide free community college for everyone? So, instead of giving away a free education to a random selection of fifth grade students, who didn’t have to jump through any hoops to get it, RCC should echo the social cliché – anything worth having is worth working for.

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