Free community college only costs $100 million dollars? What a great deal.

Inside Higher Ed reports.

White House Push on Free Community College

Local and state-based free community college programs have grown rapidly across the country in the past year since President Obama announced his plan to create a national promise program.

On Monday the Obama administration sought to encourage more states and communities to continue expanding tuition-free community college by unveiling a $100 million competition for America’s Promise Job-Driven Training Grants. The grants were announced by Vice President Biden at the Community College of Philadelphia.

“We’re excited and encouraged by this because a lot of the local promise-type programs have been created with individual colleges, and it seems that each local community college and business and philanthropy and government agency crafted something that works just right for it, so we think this is a very exciting possibility that will hopefully lead to the establishment of meaningful programs,” said David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and research for the American Association of Community Colleges.

The grants, which will be channeled through the Department of Labor, are expected to help colleges create tuition-free education and job training programs in partnership with their business communities.

They’re also H-1B funded. Employers pay a fee to the H-1B visa program to employ foreign workers in jobs that require specialized or high skills. Those fees are a revenue source that the Labor Department collects and uses to help Americans build the skills to get those jobs, said Mary Alice McCarthy, senior analyst with New America. ​The new grants are similar to those from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training, or TAACCCT, program that disbursed $2 billion to encourage institutions to form partnerships with employers to improve career training programs.

“The administration is being smart in finding ways to move the free community college agenda further,” said McCarthy. “I really applaud their creativity in an environment in which Congress won’t move on anything. They’re finding ways to keep this issue on the forefront.”