What are Joe Biden’s 3 priorities for higher education?

Biden-Harris higher ed platform starts with two-years of debt-free community college or training
By: | November 11, 2020
Community colleges such as San Jose City College will be a focus of the Biden-Harris administration. Here, graduates line up pre-COVID.Community colleges such as San Jose City College will be a focus of the Biden-Harris administration. Here, graduates line up pre-COVID.

Community colleges, historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions get top billing in President-Elect Joe Biden’s plan to expand access to higher education.

The Biden-Harris education platform calls for increased investment in training and pathways to reduce costs and lower student loan debt.

Here are the three priorities highlighted in the Biden-Harris plan:

Community colleges and training

Incoming First Lady Jill Biden is a professor at Northern Virginia Community College, and the Biden-Harris administration wants to provide students with two years of debt-free community college or high-quality similar training.


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The federal government would cover 75% of the costs with states contributing the rest to the program that would also cover students who attend school part-time and DREAMers who came to U.S. as children.

Biden also wants to create a community college grant that supports student success initiatives such as academic and career advising, dual enrollment, articulation agreements, faculty retention and improvements to remediation programs.

Also on the Biden agenda are a $50 billion investment in workforce training, including community-college business partnerships and apprenticeships, and $8 billion to help community colleges buy new technology.

Who will be secretary of education?

No announcements have been made, but the speculation is well underway.

President-elect Joe Biden apparently intends to appoint someone with classroom experience to lead the Department of Education, Politico has reported.

Politico and other sites have focused on two main contenders, both of whom lead (or have lead) teachers unions: Lily Eskelsen Garcia, an elementary school teacher and the former president of the NEA, and Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Politico also noted as a candidate Linda Darling Hammond, education professor emeritus at Stanford University and  president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute.

Higher ed pathways

Biden adopted Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal for making public colleges and universities tuition-free for families with incomes below $125,000.

To expand access, Biden would also double the maximum value of Pell grants for low-income and middle-class students and more than halve payments on undergraduate federal student loans.

His administration would also create a “Title I for postsecondary education” to increase degree completion at under-resourced four-year schools. The initiative would back partnerships with community-based organizations that serve veterans, single parents, low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities.

Grants would also provide more support to states to create seamless pathways between high school, job training, community college, and four-year programs, including

  • The expansion of dual-enrollment programs
  • Guided pathways that provide a sequence of classes for a specific area of study
  • Shifting to a 12-month academic calendar
  • Better alignment of high school, community college, and four-year college courses
  • Providing college credits for quality, degree-related on-the-job training.
  • Offering degree-related paid internships for course credit.

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HBCUs and minority-serving institutions

Biden wants to provide $18 billion in grants—equivalent to up to two years of tuition per low-income and middle class student—to historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions snd other minority-serving institutions.

Debt-free pathways: Here are Joe #Biden’s 3 priorities for #highered Click To TweetThe Biden Administration would also invest $20 billion in new research facilities and labs, and provide and another $20 billion to build out rural broadband infrastructure.

Finally, programs designed to increase enrollment, retention, completion, and employment would receive $10 billion.