I couldn't believe the proposal from President Barack Obama last week didn't get more traction.
Obama said he wanted to offer two years of community college free to adults who want to improve their chances of getting a better job and earning higher wages.
Who among us who have paid mightily for those first two years of college wouldn't applaud that?
I wasn't focused during my first two years and had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. And yet, those years cost as dearly as the last two, when I was zeroed in on a career.
In fact, after those first two years, I dropped out, worked, became a single mother and then returned several years later with debt I had to clear before I could enroll again.
Obviously, my venture shouldn't be used as a glowing example of adult students who want to get ahead. I didn't consider myself an adult at 18 and definitely wasn't interested in getting ahead of anything.
But real adults, people who realize they need a certificate or associate's degree to get a better position, could use that leg up. Chances are they've been in the work force, already struggled to make a paycheck last longer. They would be ready to focus on their futures. The president calls them "responsible adults."
Why shouldn't we be eager to help them?
America's College Promise, as the president's proposal is called, has two requirements:
1) Students must attend school at least half-time, earn at least a 2.5 GPA and make steady progress toward completion. They then can go to a four-year institution or take their associate's degree and find better employment.
2) The community colleges must offer programs that can transfer to a four-year institution, or they must offer programs with proven graduation rates in areas in which employers are looking for employees.
Kentucky Community and Technical College System President-elect Jay Box hasn't seen all the details of the proposal but, at first glance, America's College Promise looks like a winner for Kentuckians, he said.
"What we understand is that it is based on the Tennessee Promise model," Box said, adding that KCTCS officials have been studying that model for a few months.
Obama's proposal goes a little further and shows "quite a bit of promise," said Box, who will take over the reins of the system, which comprises 16 community colleges, after founding president and chief executive officer Michael McCall retires Thursday.
The Tennessee Promise covers any tuition or fees that aren't covered by other grants, scholarships or funds for high school graduating seniors starting this year. Students will be given mentors to help them navigate the admission process, and they will be required to maintain a 2.0 GPA and perform eight hours of community service each semester.
That program is funded by the state lottery, giving about $1,000 to each student annually.
"Obama's promise is much broader," Box said. "It is for working adults who need the opportunity to come back and get an education."
About 90 percent of Kentucky students in community college qualify for some financial aid, he said. But that help isn't always 100 percent of the money needed.
"Many of them have to take out loans," he said. "We'd like to see that go in the other direction. It would certainly fix that loan issue or deter it a little bit."
Students who thought higher education was out of their reach would benefit from Obama's proposal. Box likes the accountability part, putting responsibility on students to perform. "It's not just free money," he said.
It will also come with a high price tag for the federal government, to the tune of $6 billion annually. And some are complaining that textbooks are not included in the promise, which could be a deal breaker for some low-income adults with families.
The White House estimates 9 million students could be eligible. The promise would save each student about $3,800. The cost details will be included in Obama's 2016 budget.
Some already are predicting the proposal's demise in a Republican-led Congress because of the price tag.
Obama will offer more information during his State of the Union address on Jan. 20, so we'll have to wait and see. But if more adults get access to better-paying jobs, that definitely would help Kentucky.