Margaret Eby
January 09, 2015 11:51 am

Talk about starting 2015 off right. President Obama touched on a new plan yesterday that would make community college much, much less of a financial burden for millions of Americans.

Obama plans to officially unveil the rest of this proposal during his State of the Union later this month, but here’s the gist of it: The proposal would make school for half-time and full-time students who maintain a 2.5 GPA much cheaper.

How much cheaper? The federal government would cover three-quarters of the cost of an average two-year community college education. Which the White House estimates would save roughly 9 million students about $3,800 per year. It would also require that those credits be transferable to a four-year college program or occupational training degree.

That’s a huge, huge deal when you consider the sheer amount of debt that going to college entails for most Americans. In 2014, the average student loan debt was $29,400 per student, a staggering sum.

The plan is modeled, according to the New York Times, on Tennessee’s free community college program which is available to students graduating this year, and has already drawn applications from almost 90% of high school seniors in the state. Obama’s plan, unlike the Tennessee one, would have the government cover the cost of education upfront.

Obama’s going to include the program in his budget for the upcoming year, and announce more details in the State of the Union address on January 20. There’s still a long way to go before Congress approves the program (which is of course a long shot), but it would be an enormous relief for millions of students across the country. And the fact that this is FINALLY going to be a huge national conversation is definitely good news.