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Think Tank Proposes 'College for All' Plan

While there has been a growing push for all high school students to attend some form of college, a Washington-based, progressive-oriented think tank is calling for a plan that would pay for it.

The Center for American Progress released a paper today, called "Strengthening Our Economy Through College for All," that will be the first in a series of reports outlining proposed changes in policies that would allow all high school graduates to receive enough financial support to attend their local public college or university.

This plan would go beyond President Obama's vision of free community college for all that was introduced last month by extending that access to include four-year colleges.

"All high school graduates should be able to attend a public two- or four-year college or university in their home states without having to worry about whether they can afford the tuition and fees," according to the paper, written by CAP's David Bergeron, vice president for postsecondary education, and Carmel Martin, executive vice president for policy.

Based on recommendations from CAP's Commission on Inclusive Prosperity, the "College for All" proposal calls for the federal government to ensure that any student attending a public college or university would not be asked to pay any tuition and fees during enrollment. This would eliminate the need for the  Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.  Still, the type of aid each student could receive would vary based on their family's long-term economic circumstance.

To recover some of the tuition money, students who completed a degree would repay some or all of the funds through taxes based on their income, according to the CAP plan.

By providing an early guarantee of federal financial aid, the proposal aims to remove barriers to postsecondary education. The report notes that while the the "College For All" concept would cover tuition and fees, students would still be responsible for additional expenses such as room and board, books, supplies, and transportation.

Under this universal plan, students would have the flexibility to attend other institutions, such as community colleges or private institutions, but the level of support provided would be equal to tuition and fees at the comparable public college or university in the student's home state.

"The overall goal of this endeavor is to ensure that the United States has the skilled workforce and educated citizenry to achieve inclusive prosperity and economic growth," the report concludes."College for All is radically student-centric and will significantly increase the college-attainment among students from low- and moderate-income families."



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