Free college was a major promise of President Biden’s campaign last year. Now he has made it the centerpiece of a $1.8-trillion package of economic-stimulus spending.
The proposal, called the American Families Plan, calls for $109 billion to pay for two years of tuition at a community college “for first-time students and workers wanting to reskill.” The plan also would make that assistance available to undocumented residents who came to the United States as children.
“American workers need and deserve additional support to build their skills, increase their earnings, remain competitive, and share in the benefits of the new economy,” the White House said in a fact sheet outlining the measure.
Other proposals for higher-education spending in the plan include:
- $80 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant, a program of tuition assistance for low-income students, by $1,400. That amount would be in addition to the $400 increase proposed in the White House’s 2022 budget earlier this month. The maximum Pell award is now nearly $6,500. With the proposed increases, the maximum would increase to about $7,900.
- $62 billion to help improve retention and completion at colleges that enroll high numbers of low-income students, particularly community colleges. “States, territories, and tribes will receive grants to provide funding to colleges that adopt innovative, proven solutions for student success,” the White House said.
- $39 billion to subsidize two years of college for students who are enrolled in a four-year program at a historically Black college, tribal college, or minority-serving institution. The money would be reserved for students from families earning less than $125,000 a year. Minority-serving colleges would also get $5 billion to improve their administrative capacity and $2 billion more to increase the number of “skilled health-care workers with graduate degrees.”