Free college could become a reality as part of US plan for Biden families

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As part of a massive new spending program, President Joe Biden calls on Congress to enact legislation allowing students to attend community college for free.

The administration’s U.S. Plan for Families provides $ 109 billion to make two years of community college free for all students, in addition to an investment of about $ 85 billion in Pell Grants to reduce dependency on with regard to student loans.

Under Biden’s plan, about 5.5 million students would pay neither tuition nor fees, the White House said.

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The massive spending program also includes $ 62 billion for programs to increase retention and college completion rates at institutions, especially community colleges, which serve large numbers of low-income students.

Biden is expected to detail the plan on Wednesday night, during an in-person speech before a joint session of Congress.

In fact, 25 states, including Arkansas, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Tennessee, already have free community college programs statewide and more are expected. follow before Coronavirus pandemic strain national and local budgets.

In state programs already in place, students receive a scholarship for the amount of tuition that is not covered by existing state or federal aid.

How long will it take for colleges in your state to be free?

Source: Campaign for free tuition

Most are “last dollar” scholarships, which means the program pays tuition and fees remaining after applying for financial aid and other grants.

Enrollment in four-year private colleges would fall by about 12%, while enrollment in public universities and four-year community colleges would increase by about 18%, according to a study on the economic impact of free tuition. some tuition fees by the Campaign for Free College Tuition and student advocacy group Rise.

“You have a net effect of almost 2 million more students enrolled in college,” said Robert Shapiro, lead author of the study and former economic adviser to President Bill Clinton.

Free him and they will come.

Robert shapiro

former economic advisor to Bill Clinton

“Release him and they will come,” he said.

Graduation rates would also increase, Shapiro found, leading to increased social mobility and higher incomes overall.

“I can’t think of a single policy change that would affect the long-term prospects of as many people as it would.”

Over time, “I’m pretty confident that ultimately this program will pay off,” Shapiro said. “This will increase revenue and also increase underlying productivity, which [in turn] increase business income and profits.

“It’s the closest thing to a win-win.”

Not only have millions of American workers lost their jobs since the Covid epidemic and the economic crisis that followed, but unemployment, many families now say they cannot afford college.

A quarter of last year’s high school graduates delayed their university projects, according to a survey by Junior Achievement and Citizens, in large part because their parents or guardians were less able to provide financial support.

Even fewer students enrolled in community college due to the pandemic.

Community college students are likely older, low-income, and often have a balance of work, kids, and other obligations. They are also disproportionately people of color – all groups that have been particularly hard hit by Covid.

However, not all experts agree that free college is the best way to tackle the university affordability crisis.

Critics say low-income students, thanks to a combination of existing grants and scholarships, are already paying public schools little or nothing in tuition.

In addition, the money does not cover the costs, books, or room and board, all of which are costs low-income students struggle with, and the diversion of funds to free tuition could come at the expense of other campus operations, including the hiring and retention of professors and administrators.

Plus, the community college is already significantly cheaper. In two-year public schools, tuition is $ 3,770 for the 2020-21 school year, according to the College Council. Alternatively, in four-year public schools the tuition is $ 10,560, and in private four-year universities it averages $ 37,650.

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