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What They're Saying About the President's Free Community College Proposal

The President's "America's College Promise" proposal has received an overwhelmingly positive response. Here's what people are saying about the proposal.

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Yesterday, President Obama unveiled his "America's College Promise" proposal, which would make two years of community college free for responsible students across the country.

If every state chooses to implement the President's proposal, it could benefit about 9 million students every year, saving full-time community college students an average of $3,800 in tuition each year. The proposal would allow students to earn the first half of their bachelor's degree, or earn the skills they need in the workforce, all at no cost to them.

The President's proposal has received an overwhelmingly positive response — his video breaking the news has already become our best-performing Facebook post of all time, and the hashtag #FreeCommunityCollege is still trending on Twitter.

Simply put: This is a big deal.

Here's what people are saying about it:

Generation Progress:

“We applaud the president’s proposal to make two years of community college free for students who work for it. Higher education should be a public good. To build a stronger economy, we need young people to have access to the education they need and deserve without financial hardship or lifelong debt. In a time when states are investing less in higher education, the president’s proposal will help our generation gain skills and move our economy forward.”

— Anne Johnson, Executive Director

Center for American Progress:

"The president's proposal to make the first two years of college free at our nation's community colleges is an important step forward. It builds on the great success of the Tennessee Promise and begins the process of restoring public support for our most critical of public colleges: community colleges."

— David Bergeron, Vice President of Postsecondary Education

Higher Ed, Not Debt:

“The President’s proposal is an important step forward in expanding access to higher education for every American without the burden of debt or financial hardship. Incentivizing states to reinvest in community colleges and expanding federal investment in students is critical to address America’s mounting student debt crisis.”

— Maggie Thompson, Campaign Manager

National Education Association:

“We applaud the Administration’s effort to make college more affordable for more students. Education has always been the gateway to success and far too many students are graduating with mountains of debt. At a time when post-secondary education has become even more important, students and their families are scrambling to pay for that education.

“The devil is always in the details but the President is right to continue pushing to make the dream of a college education more attainable for more students and families. And we can’t forget to invest in faculty and staff to ensure our students are receiving the quality education they deserve."

— Lily Eskelsen García, President

American Federation of Teachers:

"Students deserve a high-quality, affordable and accessible higher education. And our 21st-century economy needs an educated workforce prepared to compete. Providing free community college for hardworking students could expand educational opportunity, strengthen our workforce and boost investment in community colleges, which have been hard hit by austerity budgets at the state level.

“With decades of stagnant wages and rising student debt, young people and returning adult students alike are either deterred from going to college or, when they do choose to attend, are buried under debt. That's why extending the ladder of opportunity to those who may have thought college was out of reach is so important. We applaud the president’s proposal and hope that Congress, state governments and higher education institutions will work together to make this program a reality."

— Randi Weingarten, President

Young Invincibles:

"Higher education is key to realizing better job prospects and lifts the wages of young workers. Over the last decade, Millennials have seen college tuition and student debt soar to new heights. We applaud the President’s effort to make community college more affordable and help more young adults realize the dream of a college education."

— Jen Mishory, Executive Director Civic Action:

"President Obama’s plan to make two years of community college available to any hardworking American can help create a more globally competitive workforce and address our nation’s student debt crisis by creating more affordable options.

"This is a big deal. Not only is this exactly the kind of bold action we need to expand opportunity and build a fairer economy—it has bipartisan support. It’s crucial that members of Congress work together with the White House on this proposal so millions of Americans can afford to learn new skills, continue their education, or gain the knowledge they need to pursue a new career. Just as we appreciate Senator Elizabeth Warren’s leadership in addressing the massive student debt crisis facing existing borrowers, we are encouraged by and support the President’s focus on ensuring current and future students can achieve an affordable degree.”

— Anna Galland, Executive Director


"The NAACP applauds President Obama on his proposal to establish a government program that makes community college tuition-free for millions of students for two years. This program would be a significant investment in expanding educational opportunities for millions of students across the country and for training a globally competitive workforce in the 21st century. We also are pleased that this program would provide job training opportunities, creating additional pathways for more Americans to join the middle class. We urge Congress to work with President Obama in approving this plan and making equal opportunity a reality for all."

— Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO

Consumers Union:

"College tuition costs have put quality education out of reach for many Americans, and student loan debt is a crushing burden for too many individuals and families. This proposal would go a long way toward making a college education a reality for millions who need it."

— Pamela Banks, Senior Policy Counsel

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