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Joe Biden Wants To Make Community College Free Can Progressives Push Him Further

Free Community College Tuition Requested In Baltimore County Budget Proposal

DIXON, Illinois President Joe Bidens administration is set to push to make community college tuition-free across the country, a potentially revolutionary policy that could nonetheless disappoint progressives who hope to persuade him to turn a campaign plan to make four-year public colleges free into a reality.

On Monday, first lady Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona traveled to Sauk Valley Community College here to extol the virtues of the nations community colleges as economic boosters and institutions open to all economic and social classes. Its a familiar role for Jill Biden, a longtime professor at Northern Virginia Community College who has spent much of the past decade pushing to make community colleges free.

Community colleges are our future, Biden said, without ever directly mentioning her husbands yet-to-be-formally-unveiled plan to make them tuition-free.

There is relatively little intra-Democratic debate over free community college. Progressives and moderates have both embraced the idea, which has broad support in public surveys. More than a dozen states, including several controlled by Republicans, have made attending the two-year schools free over the past decade, and mounting evidence suggests the programs have enticed more low-income students to earn associates degrees or complete job-training programs that are often essential to economic survival in 21st-century America.

What Is The California College Promise Grant

The California College Promise Grant pays community college fees for low-income California residents attending community college in the state.

This grant is available regardless of the number of units the student takes . Students are eligible for this grant even if theyve been studying already.

To qualify for the California College Promise Grant, you must be a California resident or AB 540 eligible student . Further, you must demonstrate financial need.

How can you prove financial need? You may qualify if:

  • You receive Temporary Aid for Needy Families , Supplemental Security Income , or another form of government assistance for low-income families.
  • You meet the low-income standards according to federal poverty guidelines. For example, as of January 2021, a two-person household must earn less than $17,420 to qualify .

Ways Community College Students Save

~ $1000 Savings by participating in College in High School also called dual enrollment programs. Dual enrollment programs, also called early college access, offer discounted or free tuition on 4 community college courses.

~ $11,000 Savings by enrolling in 2+2 programs & Transfer Degree programs Students who study 2 years at a community college, then transfer and study 2 more years to earn a Bachelors degree, save an average of $11,000 on tuition and fees. Plus, the State of Maryland, and some 4-year colleges, offer 2+2 Transfer Scholarships to eligible students.

~ $2000/year* Savings Statewide & Workforce Shortage ProgramsReduced tuition may be available to students based on the 2 programs outlined below.

  • Workforce Shortage Programs Special tuition rates may be available at Marylands community colleges for students pursuing education in areas projected to have future workforce shortages.
  • Statewide Programs Maryland students pay in-county tuition rates regardless of residence county, if pursuing training in high-cost programs as designated by the State of Maryland.
  • These program areas are evaluated annually by , and are subject to change.

    ~ $#,### Savings Members-only Scholarships for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Students Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society makes $90 million in scholarships available to PTK members only. PTK International Honor Society is the academic honor society for two-year colleges.

    *Estimate based on averaged costs and savings.

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    The Biden Plan For Free Community College Has A Big Challenge

    A federal solution has to account for states that vary widely in how much they charge for tuition.

    • Read in app

    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 administrations proposed 2022 budget.

    But as three recently introduced congressional proposals show, devising such policies has its challenges.

    Kevin Carey directs the education policy program at New America. You can follow him on Twitter at

    More People Go To College When Community College Is Free

    When Community College is Free

    Researchers have studied the impacts of announcing that college will be free in Oregon , Tennessee and Massachusetts .

    The potential good news is that more students were drawn into college by the policy. In Tennessee, an additional 2.5 percentage points of each high school graduating year decided to enroll in community college. Yet another 2.5% of the cohort were drawn from four-year institutions into community colleges. This could be seen as a problem because researchers find the likelihood of earning a bachelors degree or higher earnings is increased by starting out at more selective institutions with higher graduation rates than community colleges.

    The point of my research was to see what would happen if there was a national free community college policy.

    My research team found that free community college does boost the overall rate of obtaining an associate degree from 5.8 to 7.0 percentage points of students that could enroll. But, just as it occurred in Tennessee, bachelors degree completion falls by 1 percentage point as students are shifted away from four-year colleges. Low-income students that is, those with family incomes of less than $40,000 per year are impacted the least since the true price of attending community college does not change much for these students.

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    Virginia Get Skilled Get A Job Give Back

    This Virginian initiative makes community colleges tuition-free for low and middle-income students pursuing degrees in high-demand fields, such as health care, information technology, and computer science.

    Students who qualify for a Pell Grant can receive student-support incentive grants amounting to $900 per semester and $450 per summer term.

    Eligibility Criteria

    Initial eligibility for the program will be determined through the submission of federal and state student financial aid applications, including FAFSA. Each participating institution will have more specific information on how to apply for the program.

    Washington College Bound Scholarship Washington And The Seattle Promise

    Washington has two main free community college initiatives.

    The College Bound Scholarship is a last-dollar scholarship that covers tuition, some fees, and a small book allowance. Students in 7th or 8th grade from low-income families can apply.

    Meanwhile, the Seattle Promise is a last-dollar program that allows graduates of local public schools to apply for a tuition scholarship that covers any remaining tuition balance for up to two years at any public Seattle college. If low-income students still need financial support for expenses beyond tuition, such as books, meals, or room and board, they can apply for the Seattle Promise Equity Scholarship.

    Eligibility Criteria

    To be eligible for the College Bound Scholarship Washington, students must meet the FAFSA income eligibility criteria.

    Seattle Promise scholars are required to have good academic standing, a stellar attendance record, and must meet with their advisor each quarter to remain qualified.

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    Community College Is Already Virtually Free

    For the vast majority of low-income students, community college is already effectively tuition-free. Many students qualify for the maximum annual Pell Grant award, which is currently US$6,195. Even in a high-cost state like New Hampshire where I live this would almost cover full-time tuition and fees. In many other states, the Pell Grant is actually greater than the cost of tuition and fees at community colleges.

    The College Board estimates that across the U.S. the average sticker price for full-time public two-year college tuition and fees is $3,730. The average net price that is, what students pay after they get grant and scholarship aid is negative $430. In other words, students receive the extra amount to pay for books or living expenses.

    Free College At Blue Ridge Community College For Academic Year 2021

    Free tuition at community colleges in California

    Blue Ridge Community College offers Brighter Future scholarships to all college-eligible students for Spring Semester 2022.

    Economic growth requires a well-trained and educated workforce. This scholarship offer will provide a way for more of our citizens to train and get jobs in our communities. We want everyone to have a clear and affordable path to a good job that lifts all financial burdens of attending college.

    The Brighter Future Scholarship will be awarded to all college-eligible students who desire to begin or continue their education, including:

    • Adults with some college
    • Full and part-time students
    • Students who take courses in-person or online
    • Career changers
    • Anyone who wants to start college for the first time, or maybe for the second or third time.

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    Timeline Of Key Developments Related To Free Community College

    May 2014
    Tennessee Promise
    College Promise program
    College for All Act
    Education Beyond High School Plan
    American Families Plan
    $3.5 trillion budget blueprint

    States Which Offer Tuition

    The Arkansas Future Grant is a last-dollar grant that is available to students pursuing a two-year program in science, technology, engineering, and math fields or a regional high demand area of study.

    Eligibility Criteria

    Students who have graduated from an Arkansas public school or received a recognized high school equivalency diploma, and have lived in the state for three consecutive years are eligible to apply for the program.

    Apart from that, a recipient must complete eight hours of community service per semester and must work full-time for three consecutive years in the state following graduation.

    Unlike most of the programs in this list, California Promise is a first-dollar program, which means it provides tuition waivers to students, regardless of additional funding or grants the students are eligible for.

    Eligibility Criteria

    As one of the best examples of free community college on this list, state resident students planning to attend or attending a two-year or four-year degree can apply.

    Only full-time students are eligible, which means students must complete 30-semester units within each academic year.

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    Indiana 21st Century Scholars Program

    This is a unique program that offers up to four years of tuition to the states residents with a requirement that they have to commit to the program in 7th or 8th grade.

    It also requires the applicants to have good academic performance throughout their high school, and good behavior that is free of drug use and other illegal acts.

    Eligibility Criteria

    Students must enroll in 7th or 8th grade, earn an overall high school GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, complete the Scholar Success Program, and earn Indianas Core 40 Diploma, and complete at least 30 credit hours each year in college.

    An income threshold levelalso applies to be eligible for the program.

    The Work First Kentucky Scholars Program provides free community college tuition to students in Kentucky who pursue degrees in an in-demand workforce sector, including healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation/logistics, business services/IT, and construction.

    Eligibility Criteria

    To apply for this program, the student must be a US citizen and a resident of Kentucky.

    They should be a high school graduate or be enrolled in or have completed a General Educational Development Program but have not attained an associate degree. A student must apply or be accepted at an eligible institution approved by the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority.

    Discover More About The Costs Of College At Collegefinancecom

    CSCU officially launches

    The list above may not be comprehensive, as many non-participating states consider similar programs periodically. In fact, the government may soon offer free community college nationally.

    But whether you qualify for free tuition, offers all the resources and information you need to plan for your education, including how to save for the cost of tuition, how to apply for financial aid and scholarships, how to obtain student loans, and how to pay off student debt after graduation. Check out the resources at today.

    Disclaimer: The College Finance Company works hard to keep information listed on our site accurate and up to date. The information provided on may be different than what you encounter when you go to the website of a financial institution, bank, loan servicer or a specific product page on a different site. When evaluating any offers, please review the legal pages on the other partys site. Product name, logo, brands, and other trademarks featured or referred to within are the property of their respective trademark holders. Information obtained via is for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed financial expert before committing to any financial decision.

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    Community College Opportunity Grant

    In spring 2019, New Jersey piloted the state’s first tuition-free college program, known as the New Jersey Community College Opportunity Grant . This program was launched by Governor Phil Murphy on Thursday, September 27, 2018.

    The Community College Opportunity Grant is now available for Academic Year 2021-2022!

    New Jersey students enrolled in any one of the State’s 18 county colleges may be eligible for tuition-free college. Community College Opportunity Grants are available to students who meet the following eligibility requirements:

    • Enrolled in at least six credits during Academic Year 2021-2022
    • Does not have a prior college degree
    • Completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Applicationprior to September 15, 2021
    • Make satisfactory academic progress
    • Have a total household adjusted gross income between $0 – $65,000

    There is no separate application for CCOG. If you already completed the FAFSA or the NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application for NJ Dreamers, you are already being considered for this state aid.

    The Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and the Higher Education Student Assistant Authority are jointly administering this funding opportunity.

    For more information, visit your County College’s Financial Aid Office or visit the CCOG homepage to learn more about the 2021-22 policy and procedures, commonly asked questions and answers, and to access NJFAMS.

    What Free Community College Actually Means

    When it comes to community college being free you should be aware of what exactly that means: it implies that you wonât have to pay the tuition fee for your course.

    Although the base tuition fee is waived, there are certain additional costs such as transportation, living expenses, textbooks, and supplies that also need to be covered.

    In certain cases, these additional costs may also be waived, but this usually happens either in the case of a financial aid package such as the Pell Grant or other forms of scholarships and aid.

    It is worth bearing in mind that financial aid policies differ from state to state. While some states offer financial aid to everyone, other states have a need-based policy .

    Most of the time, when applying for a free program, you will be required to submit a FAFSA , which is a form completed by current and prospective college students in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid.

    Similarly, aid such as The Last Dollar Grant allows students to apply for funding consideration for up to four years of undergraduate studies within six years after high school graduation.

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    Pros And Cons Of Free Community College

    Free community college sounds like a great idea to many Americans. After all, who wouldnât want to receive a free education?

    But despite its initial appeal, there are quite a few factors to consider when it comes to the debate on free community college. Below, we highlight the main pros and cons.

    • The American Families Plan allows pursuing an educational path to those students who would have otherwise been unable to afford it. According to a report by NASFAA, low-income students cannot afford 95 percent of colleges
    • Anthony Carnavale, director of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce says, âTwo years of community college brings a return. In general, we see an 8% percent wage increase per annum for every year of college you complete. So if you go to a two-year college, on average, weâre talking about a substantial wage increase over a lifetime.â Not only will more people be entering the labor force in general, but this would especially be beneficial to people of color as 51 percent of students at community college identify as POC.

    Is It Better To Go To Community College First Then Transfer

    California To Offer 2 Years Of Free Community College

    Whether you choose to do community college before going to a four-year college depends upon your overall plan for higher education. Community colleges cost a lot less than a traditional four-year college, and also offer the flexibility to work while studying.

    The average annual cost of tuition and fees for a public two-year college is $3,440 for in-district students. However, the average annual cost for a public four-year college is $9,410 for in-state students and $23,890 for out-of-state students, according to the College Board.

    Another big reason for choosing community colleges over four-year university programs is their less-strict admission criteria, with many having open admission policies. This means that any person who graduates from high school and applies will generally be accepted.

    On the other hand, if you want to have a more comprehensive and well-rounded learning experience with on-campus housing and dining facilities, athletic programs, and student clubs/organizations, then four-year university education may suit you better.

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