Obama doubles down on push for free community college

President urges Congress to act, says 'It's an idea whose time has come'

President Obama announced last week the creation of a national advisory board to promote America's College Promise and other college affordability initiatives, Michael Shear reports for the New York Times.

Obama's announcement at Macomb Community College in Michigan marked the beginning of his public-relations tour aimed at pressuring the Republican-controlled Congress to fund the free community college plan, expected to cost $60 billion over the next decade.

Jill Biden, a community college professor and Vice President Joe Biden's wife, and Jim Geringer, a Republican and former Wyoming governor, will lead the advisory board.

"Outside of Washington, away from Congress, people are stepping up," Obama said. Notably, several states are considering free tuition plans of their own.

"There's a movement going on," the president added. "It's an idea whose time has come. Free community college for responsible students. It's an idea that makes sense."

Obama's tour to promote college affordability continues this week at a Des Moines, Iowa, high school where he will discuss costs with juniors and seniors. First Lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to visit a community college this month as well.

The president is also scheduled to announce $175 million in grants to 46 partners—including community colleges—in order to fund about 34,000 apprentices in a range of fields.

"'Earn while you learn' is a model that has been effective across the world," says U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. "These investments are going to catalyze further growth. We are seeding innovation" (Shear, New York Times, 9/9).

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