Free, huh? How is he planning to pay for this, and if someone is paying it’s not exactly free is it?

Ashley A. Smith reports at Inside Higher Ed.

Obama Steps Up Push for Free

The White House is stepping up the effort to make tuition free at community colleges across the country.

President Obama will formally unveil a coalition of community college leaders, educators, politicians, foundations and businesses that will work to spread the existing, different free two-year college models and recruit others interested in pushing the free tuition message nationally during his visit today at Michigan’s Macomb Community College.

The independent coalition, which will also be known as the College Promise Advisory Board, will be led by Jill Biden, former Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer and Martha Kanter, a professor of higher education at New York University and former under secretary of education. (A full list of the board’s members is below.)

“The predominant focus is that in the 21st century, a high school diploma is not enough for success in the economy and society. People need an education beyond high school,” Kanter said. “The board will lend its expertise to help communities understand that investing in people who want higher education is worth it.”

By 2020, it’s estimated 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree and another 30 percent will require at least some college or an associate degree, according to the White House’s progress report on free community college.

The president and the White House have been working to push America’s College Promise — the initiative to make two years of community college free — since it was announced in February. That plan was based on the Tennessee Promise, a statewide last-dollar program that provides two years of free college. That state’s inaugural class of Promise students started classes this fall. Last-dollar programs cover the gap between a student’s financial aid package and tuition.