I don't want to live in a country where only the wealthy can afford college.

I don't want to live in a country where only the wealthy can afford a college education.

A free education for every person has been an important part of our country's history. It's important that we not only keep educating, but also that we grow the opportunity.

It used to be that a grade school was offered to all Americans. Then high school was offered at no cost to all citizens. We later expanded by offering vocational training in high schools. Today many job openings require a college education. In our region only 24% of the population has a college degree. That eliminates 75% of folks looking for a job. That is discouraging.

An inexpensive 4-year college education is approximately $20,000. Many colleges and universities are much, much higher. Depending on the cost, it actually may not cost effective to get a college degree. Students are leaving with so much debt that congress is trying to pass laws to help with that debt load. Other students are in default on paying their student loans because they've been unable to get a job that pays for living expenses with enough left over to pay off debt.

I know we’re in difficult economic times. It’s times like these that encourage people to get more education, to learn new skills, or start a new trade. And it’s time to start thinking about making college more affordable for everyone in this country.

The Missouri A+ program is an incredible idea that makes me proud to live in this state. A+ allows students that have good attendance, average grades and some community service to attend two years of community college free. It’s a wonderful start. Let’s keep moving in that direction.