What is Both "Free" and Unaffordable?
President Obama’s plan to provide free tuition to community college students has landed with a thud among number crunchers, who argue that overburdened states cannot afford to fund the White House idea.
As a political strategy, “free tuition” is as appealing a message as Obama could devise heading into his final two years in office. But when pressed on funding the measure, it gets messier for the White House.
Even if Obama had the backing of Republicans to spend $60 billion in federal funds on the education program — he doesn’t — the White House still would have a money problem.
States would be on the hook for $20 billion over the next decade to send students to community college, even at a time when statehouses are funding a shrinking share of their higher education programs.