Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics:
President Obama on Friday will propose a federal-state cost-share program that he asserts would make two years of community college “free” for qualified students nationwide, with a potential price tag of tens of billions of dollars.
Borrowing from a year-old experiment in Tennessee under the leadership of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, the president will propose that Congress agree to let the federal government partner with participating states to cover the costs of at least two years of community college credits that could transfer to four-year colleges and universities, or for qualified technical education linked to employment.
Heralding the economic transformation brought about by public high school benchmarks set a century ago, Obama will argue that national education expanded to 14 years of public benefits would offer 21st century students a valuable leg up in a competitive economy and tap a community college structure unique to the United States.
The president believes two years of publicly funded post-high-school education for students of any age is a “bold” solution, his advisers told reporters.
The administration will propose a 75/25 percent tuition cost-share with states, with some strings attached. The president’s redefinition of publicly supported education could benefit an estimated 9 million students who are expected to enroll in the nation’s more than 1,100 community colleges in the near term, according to the White House.
“A full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year,” the White House explained in a sentence ripe with qualifiers.