Advertisement

Jill Biden 'disappointed' free community college cut from Build Back Better plan

First lady Jill Biden speaks at an event in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday. Biden said Monday her initiative to include free community college education has been removed from the Build Back Better plan pushed by her husband. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI
First lady Jill Biden speaks at an event in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday. Biden said Monday her initiative to include free community college education has been removed from the Build Back Better plan pushed by her husband. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- First lady Jill Biden on Monday acknowledged that her initiative to include free community college education has been removed from the Build Back Better plan pushed by her husband.

Biden, speaking to the Community College National Legislative Summit, addressed the removal of the provision she had championed, which was cut by Democrats working to trim spending in a bid to save the bill after opposition from Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

Advertisement

"Joe has also had to make compromises. Congress hasn't passed the Build Back Better agenda -- yet. And free community college is no longer a part of that package," Biden said.

"We knew this wouldn't be easy -- Joe has always said that. Still, like you, I was disappointed. Because -- like you -- these aren't just bills or budgets to me. We know what they mean for real people. For our students."

RELATED Democrat Joe Manchin, Republican Lisa Murkowski endorse each other

Biden, a longtime teacher, has worked as an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009 and is a vocal advocate for higher education.

"Build Back Better isn't just a piece of legislation. And it's certainly not a football to pass or pivot. It's about helping community colleges train our workforce for 21st-century skills," Biden said. "It's about supporting students with tutoring, child care, and transportation."

Advertisement

The costs for attending both community colleges and four-year institutions have skyrocketed since the 1980s -- even after adjusted for inflation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

RELATED Sen. Joe Manchin says Build Back Better bill is 'dead'

The average cost for attending a two-year college was $3,367 in current dollars but rose to $11,389 for the 2018-2019 school year. Many community colleges are two-year institutions providing associates degrees and certificates but some provide four-year baccalaureate degrees.

More than 40% of undergraduate students in the U.S. attend community colleges, according to the College Board, a nonprofit organization that develops and administers standardized tests such as the SAT and PSAT.

However, the Teaching College at Columbia University has noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to "steep enrollment drops" at community colleges.

RELATED Biden's first year in office marked by lofty goals, some achievements, costly setbacks

Data from the American Association of Community Colleges shows that 62% of full-time community college students work to put themselves through school and that 29% of students were among the first generation in their families to attend college.

The Build Back Better bill, a major priority for the Biden administration, had passed in the House in November by a vote of 220-213 with unanimous disapproval from Republicans and just one Democratic vote against its passage.

Advertisement

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement