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News Update

New analysis: California would need to invest less than other states in federal free community college plan

President Biden’s tuition-free community college plan, or America’s College Promise, would create a five-year federal-state partnership to allow millions of students to attain an associate degree.

On average, states would have to increase their investment by 12% or $387 per full-time student in the first year, according to a new analysis from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, a membership group of higher education leaders. But for some states, like California, the investment is lower because they already have low tuition and fees. California would only need to invest 8% more in the first year of the program to keep up with projected inflation and enrollment increases.

California’s 116 two-year institutions have the lowest in-state community college tuition and fees in the country at $1,250.

The analysis examined how much more investment states would need to make under that partnership. Federal investment in the plan would decline steadily starting at 100% in year one and dropping each consecutive year by 5%. So that by 2027, the federal contribution will reach 80%.

As for states, their contribution in 2023-24, would be 0%. But grow by 5% each year starting in 2024 and reach 20% by 2027. The states must eliminate tuition and required fees to participate.

For the 29 states, including California, that already have below-median tuition prices, they can use the remaining funds from America’s College Promise program to give need-based aid to students, reduce unmet need at four-year colleges and universities, expand dual enrollment programs, or invest in other higher education reforms to improve student outcomes.