On Wednesday, President Joe Biden introduced a $1.8 trillion American Families Plan that will make significant investments in post-secondary education, including providing two free years of community college.
The plan would also expand Pell Grant awards, provide child care tax credits, invest in educators and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), and support other efforts to make education more accessible.
To finance the plan, Biden proposed implementing income tax reform that would increase the tax rate for the top 1 percent of American earners from 37 percent to 39.6 percent. He will also increase taxes on capital gains and dividends for Americans who make more than $1 million a year.
“The American Families Plan will make transformational investments from early childhood to postsecondary education so that all children and young people are able to grow, learn, and gain the skills they need to succeed,” the plan states.
The plan would allot $80 billion to increase the maximum amount of Pell Grant awards for each eligible student and $62 billion to invest in evidence-based completion and retention strategies for college students from disadvantaged communities. It would also provide two years of subsidized tuition to historically Black colleges and other MSIs for students from families who make less than $125,000.
Most notably, the plan includes $109 billion for tuition-free community college.
Community colleges across the nation saw a steep decline in enrollment during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Freshmen enrollment declined by 19 percent for the spring 2020 semester, according to a November report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. In particular, Black, Hispanic, and Native American enrollment was the most impacted, with an overall decrease of nearly 30 percent.