Three Years Of Progress On Free Community College
By Kyle Lierman, Founder and CEO of Civic Advisors. Previously, Kyle was a Senior Associate Director of Public Engagement and Senior Policy Advisor in the Obama White House.
Three years ago, in his 2015 State of the Union, President Barack Obama unveiled America’s College Promise, an ambitious plan to make two years of community college free. President Obama’s call for free community college inspired a national movement when, seven months later, he joined Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, a community college professor, to launch the College Promise Campaign, calling on local and state leaders to make community college free.
We have seen enormous progress since 2015, with leaders across the country taking up the call to action at the local and state level. 16 states have passed statewide legislation. More than 200 local College Promise programs in 42 states have created College Promise programs to increase student success and fund community college costs for responsible students.
In 2017 alone, California, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New York, and Nevada approved free college legislation. Cities like Boston, Baltimore, Providence, San Francisco, and Los Angeles jumped on board created citywide programs. College Promise programs are also growing in rural communities, too, like Racine, Wisconsin, Barstow, California, Vance County, North Carolina, and many others.
In a video and press release out today, Dr. Biden announced her continued commitment to the effort: “President Obama started this movement, and we won’t stop until community college is free for every hardworking student in America,” Biden said. “We’ve made great progress, but there is much more work to be done.
When I worked in the Obama Administration, we knew that education was the key to success for our students in the 21st Century and that a college degree was the path to the middle class. We saw the need to make two years of community college free, to remove the burden of student debt, and to open up opportunities for better jobs for millions of students.
Now more than ever, making community college free is a key to American competitiveness. We are 12th in the world in higher education attainment. One in three students in community college is food and/or housing insecure. No student should have to sacrifice basic needs in order to get an education.
We remain committed to doing all we can to help students reach the American Dream, but we need you with us.
Here are easy actions you can take right now to show you’re with us:
- Share the video we put out today on Facebook and Twitter.
- If you haven’t already, take the College Promise Pledge to show your support of free community college.
- Follow the movement for updates by following on Twitter or onFacebook.
- Support the College Promise Campaign, so we can continue to work for students and their access to and success through higher education.