President Obama hopes to make the first two years of community college free for students, he announced Thursday.
In a video posted to the White House’s Facebook page, Obama said that when he will appear in Tennessee on Friday as part of a three-day “Road to the State of the Union Tour” where he will unveil a proposal to “make sure that community college is accessible for everybody.”
“Put simply, what I’d like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for everybody who’s willing to work for it,” Obama said, emphasizing the word “free.”
“That’s right — free for everybody who’s willing to work for it,” he repeated. “It’s something that we can accomplish, and it’s something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world.”
The White House announced last week that Obama would be stopping in Tennessee, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, where she is a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College.
Dr. Biden has been an active promoter of community college attendance.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslem recently enacted a plan to provide two years’ free tuition for community college students, according to The Tennessean. President Obama honored Haslem at the White House last month.
If all 50 states adopt the proposal, the average full-time community college student would save $3,800 in tuition per year, according to the White House’s projections. The benefits would extend to 9 million students.
That works out to $34.2 billion in annual spending, based on those rough estimates.
According to the White House website, qualifying students must maintain a 2.5 grade-point average and attend school at least half-time.
The proposed program will place guidelines on community colleges as well.
They must offer “academic programs that fully transfer credits to local public four-year colleges and universities” or “occupational training programs with high graduation rates and lead to in-demand degrees and certificates.”
This article has been updated to provide more details about Obama’s proposal.