A pair of Midwest Democrats have re-introduced a bill to create a new federal-state partnership to provide two years of tuition-free access to community or technical college programs that lead to a degree or industry-recognized credential.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Rep. Andy Levin (D-Michigan), vice chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, on Wednesday reintroduced the America’s College Promise Act.
“Higher education should be a path to prosperity, not a path into suffocating debt. But unfortunately, college costs and student loan debt are holding back an entire generation and creating a drag on economic growth for our country,” Baldwin said in announcing the legislation.
The lawmakers say the bill would:
• Create a new partnership between the federal government and states and Indian tribes to help them waive resident tuition and fees for two years of community and technical college programs for eligible students, while promoting key reforms to accelerate student success
• Provide a federal match of $3 for every $1 invested by the state
• Ensure that programs offer academic credits that are fully transferable to four-year institutions in their state, or occupational training that leads to recognized credentials
• Maintain and encourage state funding for higher education
• Establish a new grant program to provide pathways to success at minority-serving institutions by helping them cover a significant portion of tuition and fees for the first two years of attendance for low-income students
Several higher education organizations support the proposal.
“In one bold move, the America’s College Promise Act would dramatically boost community college access and success across the country. It would create greater opportunity and enhance our country’s economy. America’s community college leaders urge the House to pass this legislation as soon as possible,” Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of American Association of Community Colleges, said in a statement.