Biden Pushes Free Community College Plan, GOP Resists – Where’s the Money Coming From?

President Joe Biden recently announced his 2025 budget proposal, which includes a roadmap for expanding free community college nationwide, following in the footsteps of similar programs in New York, Connecticut, and Denver. If you’re intrigued, read on to see how it could affect you.

Biden’s Commitment to Education

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Biden has already been particularly strong on education, canceling more student loan debt than any other U.S. president and helping 4 million borrowers get their accounts back into the green. 

Biden’s Vision for Further Education Access

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Now, he’s trying to make further education a feasible pathway for millions more.

Record Funding for the Department of Education

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In his budget proposal, Biden has earmarked over $82 billion for the Department of Education – an almost 4% jump from 2023. 

Addressing the Growing Education Gap

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This funding will go towards bridging the gap between many Americans and higher education – a gap that’s been growing in size over the course of his presidency. 

Higher Education as Pathway to Middle-Class

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Biden is aiming to make college-level education accessible to the masses, remove any financial barriers that may put people off, and strengthen various initiatives aimed at getting people back into education.

In a release, the White House explained the plan is to “make sure higher education is a pathway to the middle class – not a barrier to opportunity.”

Inspiration from New York

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Biden’s proposal is reminiscent of New York’s Excelsior Scholarship – the first in the U.S. to offer four years of free tuition to people who qualify, regardless of their prior educational performance.

Key Provisions of Biden’s Proposal

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It contains several provisions to help bridge the education gap, namely:

  • Creating a federal-state partnership to ensure that eligible students can receive two years of free community college
  • Extending tuition subsidies for students at historically Black, minority, or tribal colleges for a further two years in families with an income of less than $125,000
  • Raising the Pell Grant (a nonrepayable grant for students in extreme need) to $8,145

Free Community College for Workers and First-time Students

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Biden’s proposal includes plans to let workers looking to reskill and first-time students receive two years of free community college. 

Investment in Lowering College Costs

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There’s $12 billion specifically allocated to invest in strategies to lower students’ college costs, including a “classroom to career fund,” a new initiative that aims to increase less-privileged students’ access to career-connected enrollment opportunities.

Eliminating Origination Fees 

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The plan will also eliminate the origination fees borrowers have been charged on new student loans, a fee that reportedly costs families across the U.S. billions.

Declining Student Enrollment 

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Student enrollment numbers have steadily been decreasing and are down 9.4% (1.4 million students) today since 2020.

The pandemic worsened an already existing issue, but the global cost of living crisis has further spurred people to avoid miring themselves in hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. 

Impact on Community Colleges

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Community colleges – education institutes that typically serve lower-income students – have been hit the hardest, losing almost 8% of their students in the last year.

Criticism from For-profit Institutes

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Biden’s proposal hasn’t been well received by everyone. Some for-profit institutes have come out against the plans, specifically over the Pell Grant increases, which they are not eligible to receive.

These institutes contend that they deserve equal access to financial aid, and critics have argued that excluding these institutes casts a shadow over Biden’s plans for equal access to education for all students.

The Debate Over Free College

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Some experts argue that free college doesn’t do enough to improve college affordability across the nation, as it targets those already receiving grants and scholarships and paying low tuition fees. 

Challenges Beyond Tuition

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Free college also doesn’t include the prices of materials, textbooks, and accommodation, which are significant monetary barriers that put many people off college.

Republican Opposition 

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Republican Lawmakers, meanwhile, have called the proposal fiscally inappropriate, arguing that “it will make the nation keel over from shouldering more unsustainable and irresponsible debt.”

State-level Efforts for Free Education

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However, Biden’s plans aren’t the only push for free education happening across the country; many states have been trying to pass legislation to enact the same within their borders.

Most recently, New Mexico created the “New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship Act,” which is being hailed as the most extensive tuition-free scholarship in the U.S.

Support for Underrepresented Students

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Free education advocacy groups have praised the proposal, particularly for its aim of widening support for underrepresented students.

Prospects for Biden’s Education Budget 

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Whether this budget will pass a deadlocked Congress remains to be seen, but it does give an insight into Biden’s plans if he wins the upcoming November presidential elections.

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The post Biden Pushes Free Community College Plan, GOP Resists – Where’s the Money Coming From? first appeared on From Frugal to Free.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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