Making college more accessible—and affordable—for all Americans

Kicking off a “First in the World” competition: I’ve proposed an investment of $55 million in a new “First in the World” competition to support public and private colleges and nonprofit organizations as they work to develop and test the next breakthrough strategy that will boost higher-education attainment and student outcome, while leading to reduced costs.

Strengthening community colleges

I’ve placed a deep emphasis on strengthening America’s community colleges, ensuring they’re gateways to economic prosperity and educational opportunities for millions of Americans each year. Each year, over 1,100 community colleges provide students and workers with critical skills to succeed in a 21st-century economy. To help reach my administration’s college attainment goal, I’ve called for an additional 5 million graduates from community colleges by 2020. Working in partnership with states and municipalities, community colleges are well suited to promote the dual goal of academic and on-the-job preparedness for the next generation of American workers.

Promoting industry partnerships to foster career readiness: The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program invests in community college and industry partnerships that will give more Americans the skills they need to enter and succeed in the work force. We’ve already committed $1 billion to develop programs that provide pathways for individuals to secure high-quality jobs in high-wage, high-skilled fields, including advanced manufacturing, transportation, health care, and STEM—and we’ll invest an additional $1 billion in this initiative over the next two years. What’s more, the Skills for America’s Future initiative—born out of the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges in October 2010—has brought together companies and community colleges to help workers gain new skills and will make America more competitive in the global economy.

Two million jobs for trained workers: In my 2013 budget request, I proposed the Community College to Career Fund, an $8 billion investment in community colleges and states over three years to partner with businesses to train workers in a range of high-growth and in-demand areas, such as health care, logistics, transportation, and advanced manufacturing. I’m committed to working with Congress to enact this initiative and provide more community colleges with the resources they need to become community career centers, where people learn crucial skills and earn industry-recognized credentials to build strong careers.