America’s College Promise Will Mend Our Economy

August 31, 2015

“A promise is a cloud; fulfillment is rain,” says an old Arabian proverb. President Obama introduced America’s College Promise, a proposal to make two years of college education available with no tuition fees to qualifying students. Before President Obama announced his plan, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam introduced the Tennessee Promise, a similar tuition-free community college program available to all Tennesseans. Initially criticized as being impractical and “impossible” to implement, Oregon recently followed suit and enacted a free tuition plan of its own. Early data show response to the Tennessee plan has exceeded all expectations, with students signing up in droves. And on July 8th, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-Va.) each introduced the America’s College Promise Act of 2015 in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, respectively.

While a lot of questions remain about how these plans can be best implemented, America’s College Promise is undeniably significant and, in my view, laudable—not only because it shines an unprecedented spotlight on the tremendous importance of two-year institutions, but also because it takes us back to an era when education was synonymous with investment yielding unparalleled returns for the country.

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This article was published on The Evolllution, "an online newspaper exclusively for and by those who understand higher education best," on August 31, 2015.