Community college would be tuition-free for two years under a bill introduced by congressional Democrats, reports Colleen Murphy in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The America’s College Promise Act of 2015 also promises to help cover the costs of a four-year degree at minority-serving institutions.
With a $90-billion price tag over 10 years for the federal government, the measure is about $30 billion more expensive than President Obama’s free community college proposal, writes Murphy. States would pay a quarter of the program’s costs.
Sixty representatives and 10 senators — all Democrats — sponsored the measure. With no Republican support, it has little chance of passing.
Nationwide, community college tuition averages $3,800 for a full-time student. In some states, low-income students pay nothing.
Under the bill, students at community colleges and minority-serving institutions could use federal Pell Grants to cover books, child care, rent, food and other living expenses. They’d have to make “satisfactory academic progress.”
Lowering already-low tuitions at community colleges “would encourage the neediest students to enroll at the lowest-funded colleges with the lowest graduation rates,” I wrote in U.S. News. Most “minority-serving” colleges also are poorly resourced and have very low graduation rates.