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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Introduces Legislation to Make Community and Technical School More Affordable

America’s College Promise Act is an investment in workforce readiness and our economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today formally reintroduced the America’s College Promise Act. This legislation would create a new federal-state partnership to provide two years of tuition-free access to community or technical college programs that lead to a degree or industry-recognized credential. 

“Higher education should be a path to shared prosperity, not a path into suffocating debt. But unfortunately, college costs and student loan debt are holding back an entire generation and creating a drag on economic growth for our country,” said Senator Baldwin. “America needs to out-educate the rest of the world in order to better compete in a 21st century, skills-based economy. The America’s College Promise Act is an investment in workforce readiness and our economy. I’m proud to introduce this legislation and help give more students the opportunity to gain the skills needed to compete, succeed and prosper.”

Senator Baldwin’s legislation would give students the opportunity to access quality and affordable higher education that gives them the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century economy. A full-time community college student could save an average of more than $3,500 in tuition and fees per year. If all states participated under this program, an estimated 9 million students could benefit.

“College promise programs help break down financial obstacles, and enhance accessibility for individuals who believe that college is financially out of reach. The America’s College Promise Act builds upon existing state and local promise programs, and we commend Senator Baldwin for her leadership in this area,” said J. Noah Brown, President and CEO of Association of Community College Trustees.

“The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) strongly supports the America’s College Promise Act. Each year, the nation’s community colleges educate more than 12 million Americans; providing high-quality education at a fraction of the average cost of college. Community colleges are the on-ramp to the middle class for many students and this legislation provides a first-dollar investment with dividends benefitting not only students but also labor markets and regional economies. This is a win-win for Americans,” said Dr. Walter G. Bumphus, President and CEO of AACC.

“The America’s College Promise Act does just what it advertises – fulfills the promise to make college more accessible and affordable - and includes evidence based strategies that will help to move low-income students, students of color, and immigrant students along pathways out of poverty. The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is pleased the bill waives the cost of tuition and fees at community colleges, which means students can use their financial aid for ever-increasing living costs. In addition, we are glad it forges new partnerships between community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions.  Doing so will help create affordable pathways to bachelor’s degrees. The America’s College Promise Act goes right to the heart of what nontraditional students need to succeed by connecting them to careers.  CLASP is dedicated to helping these hard-working students as they further their education and improve their economic security. That’s why we are proud to endorse the America’s College Promise Act and applaud Senator Baldwin’s leadership,” said Olivia Golden, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

Specifically, this legislation:

  • Creates a new partnership between the federal government and states and Indian tribes to help them waive resident tuition in two years of community and technical college programs for eligible students, while promoting key reforms to accelerate student success;
  • Provides a federal match of $3 for every $1 invested by the state to waive community college tuition and fees for eligible students before other financial aid is applied;
  • Ensures that programs offer academic credits which are fully transferable to four-year institutions in their state, or occupational training that leads to credentials in an in-demand industry; 
  • Maintains and encourages state funding for higher education; and
  • Establishes a new grant program to provide pathways to success at minority serving institutions by helping them cover a significant portion of tuition and fees for the first two years of attendance for low-income students.

The America’s College Promise Act is supported by the Association of Community College Trustees, American Association of Community Colleges, Center for Law and Social Policy, and Young Invincibles.

The co-sponsors of the America’s College Promise Act include Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).

More information on the America’s College Promise Act is available here.