TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The coronavirus pandemic has led to a big dip in community college enrollment, President Joe Biden said Wednesday during his first joint address to Congress.
“To win that competition for the future, in my view, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families and our children. That’s why I’m introducing the American Families Plan tonight, which addresses four of the biggest challenges facing American families and in turn America,” he explained.
President Biden announced a $109 billion proposed investment in higher education.
“This nation made 12 years of public education universal in the last century. It made us the best educated, best prepared nation in the world,” the president said. “But the world’s caught up or catching up.”
The plan offers two years of free community college for all Americans. It includes DREAMers, those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors.
The proposed change would allow first-time students and workers into community college for free so they can earn degrees or credentials.
The offer has a three-year limit.
According to the American Families Plan, research by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows there was a 9.4% drop in high-minority college enrollment and an 11.4% drop in high-poverty college enrollment.
Biden’s plan would also increase Pell Grants by $1,400, helping an estimated 7 million low income students.
Additional investments are proposed to aid students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions.
The suggested $39 billion would create a program providing two years of subsidized tuition for families that earn less than $125,000 and have a student enrolled in a four-year HBCU, TCU or MSI.
President Biden said he hopes this plan will increase student retention and contribute to a more stabilized workforce.