American Families Plan proposes paths for college affordability

May 20, 2021 09:31 am

At the end of April, the White House announced the American Families Plan, which includes a proposal for an additional four years of free, public education for the nation’s young people before and after K-12. Specifically, the plan includes $200 billion for free universal pre-school for all three- and four-year-olds and $109 billion for two years of free community college. 

In addition, President Biden is calling for an approximately $85 billion investment in Pell Grants. The plan recommends increasing the maximum Pell Grant award by approximately $1,400. The plan calls this “a down payment on President Biden’s commitment to double the maximum award.” The plan allows students with DREAMer and DACA status to access Pell Grants.

The plan also calls for a $46 billion investment in historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and minority-serving institutions.

No bill has yet been introduced to authorize funding for the plan or provide details on new programs.

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson responded to the proposal by praising the investments but deeming the plan incomplete. “While these investments deserve much praise, the plan is unfortunately incomplete in our view as it does not provide a broad strategy to increase access and affordability for public four-year university students. We strongly believe a federal-state partnership that provides free community college should at a minimum provide equivalent support to students attending public four-year institutions.”

Higher education leaders are weighing in on the higher education components of the plan. Read more from the American Council on Education (ACE) here and Inside Higher Ed here.