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President Barack Obama on Friday unveiled an ambitious new proposal that could make community college as accessible as high school for millions of Americans, calling it “a game changer” for low-income students.

“Nobody with that drive and discipline should be denied a college education just because they don’t have the money,” Obama said. “Every American, whether they are young or just young at heart, should be able to learn the skills necessary to compete and win in the 21st century economy.”

The proposal, which will likely come with a lofty price tag, needs approval from a Republican-led Congress unwilling to pass expensive new programs. The final cost will be included in the president’s budget next month.

The federal government will cover three-quarters of the cost, with participating states taking on the rest. Students must maintain a 2.5 GPA and community colleges will need to adhere to higher-quality standards.

Obama announced his “America’s College Promise” initiative in Tennessee, a state that has recently implemented a successful similar program. It was the last of three stops the president made this week highlighting topics he will speak about in his upcoming State of the Union address.

“Community colleges should be free for those willing to work for it, because in America, a quality education should not be a privilege that is reserved for a few,” Obama said.


-- Andrew Rafferty