WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama is eyeing a five-year $2.5 billion budget proposal that will give tax benefits to businesses that partner with local community colleges and hire their graduates.
Under the Community College Partnership Tax Credit, employers would donate funds for curriculum, instructors and equipment in program areas that include healthcare and information technology. Employers that hire graduates receive a one-time $5,000 tax credit per new graduate employee.
The program, part of Obama's 2017 budget that will be formally presented on Tuesday, is intended to shore up the workforce by giving college graduates useable skills. The partnership program will be an economic boon, both locally and nationally, the White House said.
"Stronger incentives are needed to connect community colleges and businesses," the White House said. "Jobs relying on education and training from associate degrees will grow faster than any other training source in the coming years. At the same time, we know there is greater need for more skilled workers with technical associate degrees and postsecondary certificates."
The proposal, which is likely to be refused in the Republican-led Congress, comes as politicians struggle for answers about the $1.3 trillion in outstanding student debt and rising college costs.
Several presidential candidates have addressed the issue by proposing free community college and new ways to fund higher education. At the same time, lawmakers on a local level have been looking to ways to cut costs for borrowers, including changing laws to allow federal student loans to be refinanced. Student borrowers are increasingly struggling to pay back their loans. About $103 billion in student loans are currently in default.