RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Look at how far Ruben Mendoza has come; he graduates next week from Wake Tech Community College and will head to NC State University in the fall.
"I'm a first-generation student, I had no clue what going to college actually meant," said the Knightdale High School graduate. "I couldn't figure out how to pay for college. I was originally going to go to Campbell University."
Though he won't benefit from a national plan to make community colleges free, he said it's possible his sister or younger brother may be able to see that day.
"There's that stigma that a lot of students specifically Hispanic males don't go to college," said Ruben whose father owns a moving business in the Triangle. "Two years of community college can make a lot of difference for students who want to pursue something."
President Biden's program offers two years of free community college to all Americans, including DREAMERS.
If all states, territories and tribes participate, about 5.5 million students would pay nothing in tuition and fees.
"Too often students come out of school with a great deal of debt and they don't go to college because they think it's not affordable," said Dr. Scott Ralls, president of Wake Tech.
He said the state has made consistent, significant investments in keeping the cost of education low.
"This is going to play out differently for different states and a state like North Carolina should be in no way be punished because of the investment in higher education affordability and availability," Dr. Ralls said.
Ralls said they need to keep things affordable -- whether that's fully free or not remains to be seen. Dr. Ralls stresses the need to balance affordability with keeping their programs strong and competitive