Comments by Sandy Baum and Judith Scott-Clayton on the White House Announcement on New Community College Initiatives
Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of The Hamilton Project.
Sandy Baum and Judith Scott-Clayton are previous authors of a Hamilton Project proposal on redesigning the Pell Grant program.
President Obama’s proposal to eliminate tuition for America’s community college students could be a case study in the messaging power of “free”: it has caught people’s attention in a way that prior efforts to lower the price of college have not. Googling “Obama free community college” returns a whopping 75 million results, compared to 92,500 for “Obama Pell Grant increase.”
This attention is much needed. Inequality in college attainment by family income is on the rise. States have been reducing their investment in higher education, shifting costs to students and placing pressure on public institutions, which are asked to do more—and for more students—with less. Meanwhile, those who need financial assistance are often stymied by the complexity of the student aid system.