President Obama Unveils Free Community College Proposal

Category: Federal Issues


President Obama announced last night on social media his plan to make community college free for “everybody who is willing to work for it.”  The plan, named “America’s College Promise,” is largely inspired by the Tennessee Promise passed last session and proposed by Governor Bill Haslam.  The President will be making a formal announcement regarding the proposal today at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee.

To become law, the plan would have to win Congressional approval.  The estimated cost, according to Deputy White House Press Secretary Eric Schultz, is roughly $60-billion over ten years.

The White House has stated that if all states participate, an estimated 9 million students could benefit.  A full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year if they attend at least half-time and maintain a 2.5 GPA.

Under President Obama’s proposal, federal funding would cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college. States that choose to participate would be expected to contribute the remaining funds necessary to eliminate community college tuition for eligible students. States that already invest more and charge students less could make smaller contributions, though all participating states would be required to put up some matching funds. States would also be required to continue existing investments in higher education; coordinate high schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions to reduce the need for remediation and repeated courses; and allocate a significant portion of funding based on performance, not enrollment alone (performance-based funding was enacted in Tennessee in 2010).

States will have flexibility to use some resources to expand quality community college offerings, improve affordability at four-year public universities, and improve college readiness, through outreach and early intervention.

For more information, you can view the White House Fact Sheet here.

To watch the President’s announcement today at 1:20 p.m. EST, click here. 

Tags: , , ,