Free community college no longer part of Build Back Better proposal


Photo of Jaden Carbajal by Andrew Epp.

Andrew Epp, Co-Bilingual Editor

“Honestly, it’s disappointing, but at the same time it is understandable.”

 Those are the words of Tualatin High School junior Jaden Carbajal, who plans to attend community college. This comes after it was made official that the Build Back Better Plan (BBB), a program touted by the Biden Administration, has now dropped the possibility of free community college. 

The Build Back Better Framework is supposed to set the United States on that path to meet its climate goals, create millions of well-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force and grow the economy. In the original proposal for the BBB Framework was the proposition for free community college; the plan would drastically lower the cost for attending college, combating the affordability gap and allowing higher enrollment in these institutions. 

“Yes, it’s a great idea because it will allow people who otherwise couldn’t afford college to attend an institution of higher learning; however, on the other hand, where is this money coming from and who wants to foot the bill for free community college?” Carbajal stated. 

While the initial BBB Framework, which included the proposition for free community college, was proposed to have a budget of $3.5 trillion, the plan has been reduced to have a budget of $1.75 trillion. So where is this money coming from, who will be taxed and, with free community college out of the picture, what will this money be going to fund? 

The answers to these questions can be found in an official statement from the White House, which states that the investments will be funded “by making sure that large, profitable corporations can’t zero out their tax bills, no longer rewarding corporations that shift jobs and profits overseas, asking more from millionaires and billionaires and stopping rich Americans from cheating on their tax bills. Under this historic agreement, nobody earning less than $400,000 per year will pay a penny more in taxes.

“For the time being, it’s discouraging,” Carbajal added. “While I would like to see a revised bill that includes free community college in the future, I acknowledge that it’ll take some time for an agreement to be met on all sides of this discussion, and only time will tell if things are going to get to the place we want them to be.” 

While the BBB Framework, championed by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, ultimately fell through the cracks last month due to other lingering issues for Democrats, issues like child care initiatives, universal preschool and child tax credits have been pushed to top priority for House and Senate Democrats. Many remain hopeful for a potential revision to the plan. 

President Biden highlighted it as one of his top priorities for the administration going forward.

I promise you — I guarantee it — we’re going to get free community college in the next several years, across the board,” he said in a town hall interview with CNN.

Currently, with other world affairs and rising tensions at home, only time will be able to tell if such a promise will be kept in the future. For many, all they can do is wait.