Free pre-K and community college included in budget plan
“At the end of the day, it is a state responsibility,” said Mr Lankford.
House Republicans, who denounced Mr. Biden’s plan when he proposed it, argued in a statement that “eliminating tuition and fees at the cheapest colleges in the country will not not solve the college affordability crisis. “
But Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, said Mr. Biden’s plan demonstrates his in-depth knowledge of the barriers faced by the country’s 12 million community college students each year. . The first lady, Jill Biden, is a longtime community college professor.
“Eliminating tuition fees, increasing support for workforce training and providing the resources needed to increase student achievement and completion directly target these barriers,” said Mr. Bumphus in a statement, “and will help us eradicate them and pave the way for a better future for students, for communities and for the nation.
The Biden administration turned to Tennessee, one of the first states to offer a free community college program, for advice on its proposal. Its program, called the Tennessee Promise, offers ‘last dollar’ scholarships for students to attend community colleges and other two-year programs, essentially covering any remaining costs after they run out of financial aid. .
Shanna L. Jackson, President of Nashville State Community College, told reporters this year that one of the biggest lessons from the Tennessee program was that “free college isn’t free” and that students are often burdened with other costs like transportation, books, and child care.
“There is a very real cost to students in both urban and rural areas who have to reduce their working hours to be successful,” said Jackson, adding that the burden falls disproportionately on low-income and minority students. .
She added that there was also a “significant equity gap between black and white students” who enrolled through the state program. For example, among the 2017 cohort of the Promise program, 26% of white beneficiaries graduated in five semesters, while only 9% of black students did.