While we earlier estimated the cost of President Obama's "free" community college to be around $34 billion, the White House has finally released its own estimate: $60 billion.
Here are quick notes from Eric Schultz's on plane gaggle. Double check with the transcript please.
Eric Schultz, the deputy press secretary, said that President Obama would be joined in Knoxville by Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden to announce his proposal to make two years of community college free for all responsible students no matter their age.
The president is heading to Knoxville because the Tennessee Promise program, initiated by the state’s Republican governor, served as “an inspiration for the president’s proposal and demonstrates that the proposal is both ambitious and achievable.”
Later today the president will travel to Clinton, Tenn. to announce the latest public-private partnership manufacturing hub to boost innovation in the sector, Schultz said. ...
Schultz said that Senators Corker, Alexander and Congressman Duncan from Tennessee are all on Air Force One today. “We do appreciate the bipartisan interest in this,” he said and noted it was spearheaded in Tennessee by a Republican governor. “We take Republicans at their word when they say there is interest in education,” he said.
“The national conversation on this starts today…This is something we are going to be working hard on,” Schultz said. “Now is the time to make sure that all Americans regardless of age have access to higher education,” he said. “So that’s what he’s focused on.”
Asked about the college idea being a one-sized fits all program?
"The president believes the success we've seen in Tennessee should be available to all 50 states."
Can students apply for grants, too?
"Largely, the full two years of their college education will be paid for."
How would you pay for this program:
Will release details in the budget
Said there was "intense" interest in the idea. More than 5.7 million people viewed the Facebook video by 10 am Friday, he said. 21.1 million people "have been reached" by the Facebook post. He said it was the most successful Facebook post.
Said the college program will cost "roughly $60 billion over 10 years."
"That is a significant investment, but it's one the president believes is worthwhile because we need to make sure that America's young people are getting the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy."
He said the $60 billion represents the federal share of the program.
Q: Is this fully baked or could it change?
He said "this has been inspired by the Tennessee program. That said, we are starting a national conversation today, in just a few hours, about how we can expand college access for all americans.'