On Friday, President Obama started a national conversation to establish two years of tuition-free community college for students. The President announced his proposal in Tennessee, where Governor Bill Haslam signed the Tennessee Promise into law this past year – a program that provides two years of tuition-free community or technical college to Tennessee high school graduates beginning with the Class of 2015.
The President's proposal specifies eligibility criteria, laying out requirements that a student must attend the community college at least half time, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and make steady progress toward completing an academic program. In addition, community colleges would be expected to offer academic programs with credits that fully transfer to local four-year public colleges and universities or provide occupational training programs with high graduation rates and lead to in-demand degrees or certificates. Community colleges are also expected to demonstrate efforts to achieve and improve upon student outcomes.
President Obama proposed a collaborative approach between the federal government and the states - one where federal dollars would constitute three-quarters of the average cost of community college and states would contribute the remaining balance to cover costs to eligible students.