March 2, 2018

Whitehouse, Baldwin Introduce Bill to Make Community College and Technical School More Affordable

America’s College Promise Act is an investment in building skilled workforce, growing economy

Washington, D.C. – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has joined Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and twelve Democratic colleagues to reintroduce the America’s College Promise Act.  The legislation would create a new federal-state partnership to provide two years of tuition-free training in community or technical college programs that lead to a degree or industry-recognized credential.

“Rhode Island’s own Senator Claiborne Pell understood better than anyone that higher education is one of the most powerful tools for building a strong middle class.  Under Governor Raimondo, Rhode Island is again showing national leadership on education by offering free tuition to students attending community college in Rhode Island,” said Whitehouse.  “Now, this bill would give more students across the country that same opportunity to earn a degree and land a good job without amassing enormous student loan debt.”

The legislation would give students a high-quality, affordable postsecondary education that equips them with the skills to succeed in the twenty-first century economy.  A full-time community college student could save an average of more than $3,500 in tuition and fees per year.  An estimated 9 million students could benefit from the program if all states participate.

Last year, Rhode Island began the Rhode Island Promise scholarship program, which offers high school graduates the opportunity to pursue an associate degree tuition-free at the Community College of Rhode Island.

The America’s College Promise Act:

  • 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.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921