President Obama proposes two free years of Community College

“America’s College Promise,” President Barack Obama’s plan, would give two tuition-free years of community or technical college. "For everybody who's willing to work for it," said Obama, who outlined the plan in Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee. The President is unveiling a proposal for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost.

This proposal will require everyone to do their part: community colleges must strengthen their programs and increase the number of students who graduate, states must invest more in higher education and training, and students must take responsibility for their education, earn good grades, and stay on track to graduate. The program would be undertaken in partnership with states and is inspired by new programs in Tennessee and Chicago created by Governor Bill Haslam.

This program which pays two years' tuition for recent high school graduates who attend state technical schools or community colleges. Under Obama's proposal, federal funding would take care of 75 percent of the cost and states would cover the other 25 percent. The plan could save the average community college student $3,800 in tuition annually. In order to take advantage of the program, students would have keep a minimum 2.5 GPA, be enrolled at least halftime and work to finish their programs.

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. These days, Americans need more knowledge and skills to meet the demands of a growing global economy and without having to take debt before they even embark on their career. The President proposed a new American Technical Training Fund to expand innovative high-quality technical training programs similar to Tennessee that meet employer needs and help prepare more Americans for better paying jobs.

These proposals build on a number of historic investments, made in college affordability and quality, including a $1,000 increase in the maximum Pell Grant award to help working and middle class families, the creation of the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit, reforming student loans to eliminate subsidies to banks to invest in making college more affordable and keeping student debt manageable, and making available over $2 billion in grants to connect community colleges with employers to develop programs that are designed to get hard-working students good jobs.

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