WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House announced a proposal that Obama would be proposing to make community college “free for everybody who is willing to work for it.” But administration officials provided no details about the program’s costs or where the money would come to pay for it.
Obama planned to formally announce the plan Friday at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee. He gave a preview in a videotaped message shot aboard Air Force One and posted on Facebook.
“It’s not just for kids,” Obama said. “We also have to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to constantly train themselves for better jobs, better wages, better benefits.”
Obama provided very few specifics, and White House and Education Department officials on a conference call with reporters Thursday evening said the funding details would come out later with Obama’s budget.
According to a White House press release, federal funding would cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college and states that choose to participate will be expected to contribute the remaining funds necessary.
The White House did say that if all states participated, that nine million students could benefit saving on average $3,800 in tuition per year for a full-time student. That means the program could cost in the billions of dollars. In a Republican-led Congress, the proposal likely faces a tough legislative fight to be passed.
“With no details or information on the cost, this seems more like a talking point than a plan,” said Cory Fritz, press secretary for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.