Obama Proposes Free Community College

In Tennessee today, the White House announced its desire to make two years of community college free for any American who wants it, with the cost being shared by federal and state governments, 75%/25% respectively.

The concept is said to be modeled after a program already available in Tennessee.

Obama, joined by Vice President Biden, will announce the plan at Pellissippi Community College in Knoxville, Tenn. Obama’s plan is modeled after the Tennessee Promise — a state-level free-college plan starting this fall, paid for with Tennessee Lottery proceeds.

President Obama will propose two years of free community college for American workers Friday, part of what the White House says is an effort to make community college as universal as high school is today.

“Put simply, what I’d like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for anybody who’s willing to work for it,” he said aboard Air Force One amid a three-state tour to preview his State of the Union Address. “It’s something we can accomplish, and it’s something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anyone in the world.”

Cory Fritz, a spokesperson for House Speaker Republican John Boehner, didn’t seem to think much of the proposal without more details. Any action of the type Obama is suggesting will require action from the Republican-controlled House to move forward.

Said Fritz, “With no details or information on the cost, this seems more like a talking point than a plan.”

In speaking about the plan, Obama’s domestic policy adviser, Cecilia Munoz, almost seemed to characterize it more as a political initiative than a practical plan for education.

Obama’s domestic policy adviser, said Obama’s pre-K proposal spurred state and local governments to increase the number and quality of preschool offerings, and hopes the college proposal will do the same. “We don’t expect the country to be transformed overnight, but we do expect the conversation to begin tomorrow,” she said.

Obama, joined by Vice President Biden, will announce the plan at Pellissippi Community College in Knoxville, Tenn. Obama’s plan is modeled after the Tennessee Promise — a state-level free-college plan starting this fall, paid for with Tennessee Lottery proceeds.


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