College & Workforce Readiness

Obama Appoints Panel to Lead Push for Free Community College

By Catherine Gewertz — September 09, 2015 1 min read
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President Barack Obama hasn’t been able to get his plan for free community college through Congress, so he’s trying another approach: assembling a panel of experts to help him make that vision come true on a state-by-state basis.

President Obama and Jill Biden, a community college teacher and the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, are expected to announce their plan Wednesday during a visit to Macomb County Community College in Warren, Mich.

Central to the plan is the College Promise Advisory Board, which will call attention to programs that already offer free community college, and work to persuade more states and cities to do so as well, according to the Associated Press.

Biden will lead that board, which is made up of leaders from the higher education, business, advocacy, philanthropic, and legislative sectors. Inside HigherEd has a list of all the members of the advisory board.

Obama has, as you know, been pushing for better college access and completion since he took office. More recently, he has been pressing for students to be able to go to community college free of charge, a proposal he made formally in January and buttressed with a “progress report” released Wednesday morning.

The report includes a list of the states and cities that are providing a semester or more of community college free for students, including five that have joined the list in the last six months: Oregon and Minnesota, which created statewide programs, and Philadelphia; Dayton, Ohio; and Palatine, Ill., which did so at their local community colleges.

The president’s domestic policy adviser, Cecilia Munoz, acknowledged to the Associated Press that the Republican-controlled Congress doesn’t appear to have much interest in the idea. The new advisory board will try to build momentum for the idea, she said, “so that Congress will do what the people are asking for.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.