WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced H.R. 2962, America’s College Promise Act of 2015 (ACP). The legislation would make two years of community college free and provide an affordable pathway to a four-year college degree for low-income students.

Under the America’s College Promise Act, more than 9 million students at 1,300 community colleges and nearly 300,000 students at approximately 280 four-year Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving institutions (AANAPISIs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), stand to benefit each year.

“Students and families are faced with the overwhelming burden of figuring out how to pay for college,” said Rep. Scott. “America’s College Promise is a step in the right direction to help families gain access to quality, affordable higher education opportunities.

The bill provides a federal match of $3 for every $1 invested by the state to waive community college tuition and fees for eligible students before other financial aid is applied. America’s College Promise would help to cover a significant portion of tuition and fees— for either the first two years or last two years of college—for low-income students who choose to attend qualifying HBCUs, HSIs, AANAPISIs and other MSIs.

“Higher education should be a path to shared prosperity, not a path into suffocating debt,” said Senator Baldwin. “Unfortunately college costs and student loan debt are holding back an entire generation and creating a drag on economic growth for our country. The America’s College Promise Act will strengthen workforce readiness and our economy.

The legislation was originally proposed by President Barack Obama in his 2015 State of the Union speech, with the goal of making community college as universal as high school.

“America’s College Promise is the President’s bold vision, announced earlier this year, to make two years of college as universal as high school was a century ago, helping students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost,” said Secretary Duncan.

America’s College Promise was not the only noteworthy legislation announced this week.  With the introduction of the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Woman Act, members of Congress not only ensured that every woman who receives care or insurance through the federal government will have coverage for abortion services, lawmakers also prohibited political interference with decisions by private health insurance companies to offer coverage for abortion care.