California's ambitious plans to make community college free

Dive Brief:

  • A mix of public and private funding sources is aiming to make community college tuition free for students in California as part of the state's Promise programs, which are growing at a brisk clip.
  • State legislators are also proposing a new bill that would supplement aid to state colleges to help eliminate student loans, Inside Higher Ed reports.
  • Newly released figures also showed that around a third of community college students nationwide go hungry and nearly 15% are homeless, according to NPR.

Dive Insight:

With 40% of all undergraduates attending community colleges, plans to make them tuition-free would have a major impact on the student loan debate, and help reduce the loan burden overall. Plans to make community college free have been circling around for a while, inspired by Tennessee's own Promise programs, which have already made community college free in that state. The proposals got a major boost when former president Barack Obama announced his plan, modeled after the Tennessee initiative, to make community college free nationwide. (Most recently, a resource guide was released to help states guide their own programs). 

Eliminating tuition would also be a boon to the large numbers of community college students who struggle with hunger and homelessness while completing their education, and it would open community colleges up to a broader swath of students from low-income backgrounds than ever before. The newly released numbers were collected by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, who found a larger number of students facing homelessness and hunger from when they last completed the survey in 2015. 

Filed Under: Higher Ed Policy & Regulation
Top image credit: Barnes & Noble College