President’s America’s College Promise Proposal

Posted by on 01.14.15 in Community, Education, Uncategorized

Welcome students, faculty, staff, and the community to Winter Semester 2015.  I’m hopeful your holiday season went well and am confident the upcoming semester will bring good things.

Earlier this week, President Obama formally unveiled his “America’s College Promise” proposal supporting community colleges.  The Promise is modeled after programs in several states, particularly Tennessee, and is intended to transform higher education by making community college free for most students.  While many details will not be available until the President’s State of the Union Address on January 20th, here is what we know today:

The Promise would:

  • Apply to any half or full-time community college student maintaining a 2.5 grade point average and making steady progress toward a degree
  • Apply to community colleges offering credit toward a four – year degree, or an occupational training program, awarding degrees in high-demand fields
  • Cover 75% of the average cost of community college in states opting into the program. State opting in would need to cover the remaining 25%.  The impact on the federal budget is estimated to be $6 billion annually, while the impact on state budgets is expected to be $2 billion
  • Apply yet to be defined performance metrics to participating states and community colleges

The Promise also establishes the American Technical Training Fund.  An early analysis prepared by the American Association of Community Colleges states “This fund will award programs that have strong employer partnerships and include work-based learning opportunities, provide accelerated training, and are scheduled to accommodate part-time work. Programs could be created within current community colleges or other training institutions. This program will fund the start-up of 100 centers and scale those efforts in succeeding years.”

The Promise is the single largest federal proposal supporting community colleges in recent history.  The President should be lauded for moving this proposal forward.  From a fiscal perspective, it is larger than his proposed American Graduation Initiative of 2009.  This program, if implemented well, will fulfill the need for a more skilled talent pool in the U.S. However, just as importantly, no funding source has been identified for the Promise.  It is critical that the President and Congress work together to identify funding sources for the Promise or restructure the program so that is both effective and fiscally viable.

I will share more information on the Promise program as it becomes available.


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