In the News: Jill Biden’s Push to Make Community College Free

By 10/30/2016

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As the Obama administration nears its end, second lady Jill Biden is still working hard to try to make free community college a reality across the U.S., notes Emily Deruy in the Atlantic.

ednext-oct2016-blog-ototn-biden-community-college-freeDeruy explains

At the beginning of last year, President Obama called for community college to be free nationwide, a tall order that has yet to become a reality given pushback from Republicans in Congress opposed to Washington intervening in what many see as a state issue. Later in 2015, he announced the creation of a coalition of community-college leaders involving partnerships with local businesses, K-12 teachers, and foundations to pilot free community-college programs at state and local levels. So, even as nationwide free community college remains elusive, a number of states and cities have enacted their own versions of the idea. Tennessee’s Republican governor launched a statewide version in 2014 that frequently serves as a model. Oregon and Minnesota have followed suit. So have major cities like Detroit, Salt Lake City, and Boston. Lawmakers from more than 10 states have introduced legislation, and the issue appears to be gaining momentum.

But there’s no guarantee that momentum will be maintained. While Hillary Clinton has touted a plan to make not just two but four years of college free for students from families earning up to $125,000, the chances of such a proposal becoming reality anytime in the near future may be slim, and it’s unclear how much attention she’ll devote to community colleges specifically.

In a forum in the Winter 2016 issue of Education Next, Sara Goldrick-Rab and Andrew Kelly look at the pros and cons of making community college free.

– Education Next

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