The Biden Plan for Free Community College Has a Big Challenge

In Education On
- Updated

Coming up with a national policy for a college system that is decentralized is a lot tougher than it seems.

As part of the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, the Biden administration plans to fund free community college, even as the administration steps back from a more ambitious campaign promise of making public four-year colleges tuition-free for most students.

The case for free tuition at public two-year colleges has become stronger during the pandemic. As the country recovers from the recession, unemployed workers without college credentials are having a much harder time finding jobs. Community colleges provide a diverse population of students with an affordable way to retool and take the first steps toward opportunity.

The plan that President Biden is expected to detail on Wednesday in an address to Congress would spend $109 billion over 10 years to make community college tuition-free. It would also increase the maximum Pell grant — a voucher that low- and moderate-income students use to pay for tuition, fees, books, room and board — by $1,400, on top of a $400 increase in the administration’s proposed 2022 budget.

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