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An initiative for community colleges in the US

Barack Obama stands for his promises, at least as far as higher education is concerned. After focusing for a few months on his first priority in the field, i.e. raising affordability (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, May 2009), the American president decided it was high time for the second, i.e. support for community colleges (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, November 2008). In fact, the two are deeply interlinked, not only on financial terms.

In an inspiring speech at Macomb Community College, Michigan, president Obama launched the American Graduation Initiative. In practice, the initiative calls for 5 million additional community college graduates by 2020. It proposes competitive grants for a total of USD 10 billion, as well as USD 3 billion for the creation of a College Access and Completion Fund, to support community colleges’ innovative strategies in promoting college completion.

As far as the agenda for affordability is concerned, the bill that would end the guaranteed-student-loans programme passed the Education Committee in the House of Representatives. The ball is now in the court of the House Budget Committee. The above initiatives are undoubtedly proof of good planning. But whether a good plan achieves the desired results, remains to be seen.

The White House