Student to Obama: If community college becomes free, doesn't the value of a degree drop?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Absolutely not. I have been asked this question before, and I do not know where it is coming from.

I will give you an example. There is a college in New York called City College of New York. And back in the, you know, 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s, the City College of New York produced as many Nobel laureates as a lot of Ivy league schools.

It was free. But it was considered one of the best universities in the country, one of the best college systems in the country. Nobody thought, because you went to the city colleges, and it did not cost you any money, that somehow the education was devalued.

So the issue is not whether you are — how much money you are paying. The issue is what that education is providing you. The reputation of the school is going to be determined by, when the graduates come out, do they have the skills they need to do the job?