The most famous US higher education teacher — First Lady Jill Biden — admitted Monday that the Democrats’ hopes for providing free community college for all American adults are officially dead.
Jill Biden, who teaches English at a Virginia community college, said that whatever version emerges of her husband President Joe Biden’s stalled Build Back Better social spending agenda, it won’t have funds in it for covering tuition at the two-year programs.
“Free community college is no longer a part of that package,” she said in a speech.
Community colleges offer two-year higher education courses that can either stand alone or be used as gateways to transfer into full four-year degrees at other universities. They have long been seen as a crucial tool for building a more skilled workforce and giving poorer Americans a chance to acquire marketable skills.
The colleges are still generally affordable, costing a fraction of the notoriously expensive traditional universities, but Jill Biden had championed making them entirely free.
“Like you, I was disappointed. Because, like you, these aren’t just bills or budgets to me. We know what they mean for real people, for our students,” she told a community college summit.
Biden’s Build Back Better bill, which sought to throw as much as $2 trillion at everything from education and childcare to combating climate change, passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate. Negotiations are underway on crafting new, pared-down legislation.