A nationwide community college tuition waiver is among the policies that’s been cut from the Build Back Better Act, the big social spending bill that Congress is negotiating.
Two years of tuition free community college for all Americans was one of President Joe Biden’s big talking points on the campaign trail.
It’s a blow for community colleges across the country as they’ve been seeing dips in enrollment now for two years in a row. However, free tuition may not be the answer to that problem.
Brad Tyndall has had his eyes on that free tuition proposal for a while.
“But I’m not as disappointed as I could be,” he said.
Tyndall is the President of Central Wyoming College, where students already tend to get a lot of financial aid.
He said a bigger barrier for potential students are the bills they have to pay. They can’t take time away from their low paying jobs to work towards better ones.
“Especially in Wyoming, the opportunity cost of going back to school is so high that even if it’s totally free, that’s not free enough if you will,” he said.
That’s true across the country, said Martha Parham with the American Association of Community Colleges.
The organization supports boosting the federal Pell Grant – still in Biden’s plan – which low-income students can use to cover life expenses after their tuition is paid.
“Anything we can do to remove those barriers, which the Pell Grants certainly help with, but also those wraparound support services,” Parham said.
Like expanded access to child care. Which for now, is still included in the president’s framework.
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