America’s College Promise


On Jan. 8, President Barack Obama announced a new proposal, “America’s College Promise,” hoping to provide responsible students with two years of free community college education.

“To make sure that community college is accessible for everybody […] 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. It’s something we can accomplish, and it’s something that’ll train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world,” said President Obama. The President’s belief for the proposal is that “[Education] is the key to success for our kids in the 21st century […] but we also understand that it’s not just for the kids. We also have to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to constantly train themselves for better jobs, better wages and better benefits.”

According to the official White House website, community colleges will also have to improve their programs in order to be a part of the new America’s College Promise proposal. Federal funding will cover at least 75 percent of the program and the participating states will have to fund the remaining balance.

David Hudson of the official White House website stated that, “If all 50 states chose to implement the President’s new community college proposal, it could save a full-time community college student $3,800 in tuition per year on average, and would benefit roughly 9 million students each year.” In other words, community college students “would be able to earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree, or earn the technical skills needed in the workforce—all at no cost to them.”

Ideally, the students who wish to benefit from the initiative should attend “at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA while in college, and make steady progress towards completing their program,” said the Office of the press secretary in the proposal fact sheet. According to the fact sheet, community colleges would have to improve themselves in order to be included in the initiative as well:

“Community colleges will be expected to offer programs that either are academic programs that fully transfer to local public four-year colleges and universities, giving students a chance to earn half of the credit they need for a four-year degree, or occupational training programs with high graduation rates and that lead to degrees and certificates that are in demand among employers.  Other types of programs will not be eligible for free tuition.  Colleges must also adopt promising and evidence-based institutional reforms to improve student outcomes, such as the effective Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) programs at the City University of New York which waive tuition, help students pay for books and transit costs and provide academic advising and supportive scheduling programs to better meet the needs of participating students, resulting in greater gains in college persistence and degree completion.”

According to their website, BC currently fits the standards presented in the proposal. Nevertheless, since “America’s College Promise” is still under review, there is a possibility that the proposed criteria may change.