In March 2018, Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii introduced the Debt-Free College Act of 2018, the latest in a growing trend of local, state, and federal policies that, in response to the student-debt crisis and public demand to make college more affordable, aim to reduce the cost of college.
While these programs share an overarching goal, the seemingly simple concept of “free college” becomes devilish in the details. Exactly how these policies work, and importantly, who they benefit varies greatly. Only when done right can these programs ensure that the big investment in free college ultimately meets students’ real needs and the public demand for a more affordable higher education system.
In an upcoming report, we’ll examine how well programs throughout the country are doing at advancing equity.