INSIDE HIGHER ED: Obama’s Final Two Years

Career College Central Summary:

  • The White House has highlighted a range of higher education policy ideas in the days and weeks leading up to President Obama’s penultimate State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.
  • Some of the proposals — like the free community college plan — are brand-new.
  • But others are not. The White House, for instance, previously has asked Congress to exempt from taxation the student loan balances that the federal government forgives under its income-based repayment programs.
  • And still other higher education proposals, such as the college ratings system, went unmentioned in Tuesday’s speech. But they nonetheless remain a priority for the administration.
  • Below is a guide to the Obama administration’s higher education priorities and legislative proposals as the clock ticks on its final two years in office:
  • Tuition-Free Community College
  • The most ambitious of the proposals, which President Obama first announced earlier this month in Tennessee, is a plan to eliminate two years of tuition for some community college students nationwide.
  • The White House plans to pay for program, which it says will cost $60 billion over the next decade, by raising taxes on wealthy Americans and financial institutions.
  • Unlike the Tennessee program on which it is based, the Obama plan, is a "first-dollar" scholarship program, White House officials reiterated on Tuesday. 
  • “You would eliminate tuition entirely at community colleges for all students, regardless of whether or not they receive a Pell Grant now,” a senior administration official told reporters. “Students receiving federal financial aid could use those resources for books, supplies, transportation and any other cost of going to college."

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