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CIC Report Reviews States' Tuition-Free College Programs

September 1, 2020
 
 

Several years after three states implemented tuition-free college programs, the Council of Independent Colleges released a new report Monday examining the early effects of each program.

The Tennessee Promise and Oregon Promise programs, which guarantee tuition-free admission to public community colleges in the state, increased community college enrollment in their respective states significantly, the report states. That said, it’s too early to tell whether that enrollment boost will contribute to an increase in college credentials awarded.

New York’s Excelsior program -- for students attending both two- and four-year programs -- has benefited fewer students than originally predicted, and many students have been terminated from the program after failing to maintain full-time status, the report states. This could change in the future alongside the program's eligibility ceiling, which increased last year to annual family income of $125,000.

The CIC report points to Washington State as a model for college affordability policies.

“The programs do not privilege two-year college attendance -- beyond what greater proximity and lower tuition already do -- and they facilitate the choices of needy students who wish to elect private college options but need aid to do so. The state also has an early commitment (from middle-school age) guarantee program for very low-income students that provides especially generous grants for attendance in any sector,” the report states.

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