Here’s the big problem free college won’t solve

College Graduates

President Obama is proposing to provide two free years of community college for qualifying students, but a recent “Planet Money” episode pointed out one big problem with this proposal.

Only one about in three students enrolled in community college will actually graduate, and a lack of money isn’t the only thing in their way.

That may sound low, but only about 20% of full-time community college students get a degree in three years, education professor Susan M. Dynarski wrote in The New York Times this month. (That number goes up to 35% in five years.)

“There are a few classic reasons why only one in three students makes it through community college. A lot of students run out of money and quit,” “Planet Money” reporter Zoe Chase reported last week. “Some have a sudden family problem. Their kid gets sick or a spouse loses their job.”

Some community college students don’t get support from their families, while others had subpar high school educations and have to play catch-up right away. In fact, a 2010 study by public policy organisation Demos found that six out of 10 students entering community colleges have to take remedial courses to compensate for the skills and knowledge they never attained in high school.

“Graduation rates are low in part because community colleges can’t exclude poorly prepared students. Unlike selective schools, they are required to take anyone who walks in the door, and they have to work harder to get those students to graduation,” Dynarski wrote in The Times.

And money for college won’t necessarily make it easier for those poorly prepared students to succeed.

NOW WATCH: 9 animated maps that will change the way you see the world