On Wednesday, President Joe Biden put investing in community colleges and workforce training at the center of his American Families Plan. Included is $109 billion for free community college, $80 billion for expanded Pell Grants, $62 billion for retention and completion programs that serve low-income students, and $39 billion to subsidize tuition at historically Black and other minority-serving institutions. Additional investments would impact many community college students, including reducing the cost of child care, expanding nutrition assistance, and creating a national paid family and medical leave program.
These investments are critical for our colleges and the communities they serve, and would provide life-changing support to families, students, and workers most disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The types of support and who would benefit most would also create a more equitable recovery, accounting for existing and longstanding structural barriers.
As Achieving the Dream has said before, any plan for free community college must be paired with the financial support to equip colleges with the funding they need to serve the students that come through their doors, be paired with funding and support for institutions to restructure course scheduling and to offer guided, streamlined pathways to on-time graduation. Colleges should also provide critical student services to advise and counsel as many students as possible as they manage school, work, and family responsibilities. The investments in the President’s plan will substantially help in each of those areas and are now more critical as many existing and potential community college students have lost income or their job due to the pandemic.
As the President stated, “It is not enough to restore where we were prior to the pandemic. We need to build a stronger economy that does not leave anyone behind.” Achieving the Dream applauds the President’s bold agenda and looks forward to community colleges helping to lead the way to an equitable recovery, ensuring that students have a pathway to social and economic mobility.