Free education "for those willing to work for it."
That's what President Obama announced Friday in a bid to make the first two years of community college free for "responsible" students.
The president announced the proposal at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tenn., a significant location. "America's College Promise" is modeled after a Tennessee program (called "Tennessee Promise"), which covers the cost of community college tuition not covered by grants and scholarships. It also requires the student to have a mentor, perform 8 hours of community service per term, and maintain a 2.0 GPA.
If passed, Obama's plan would require both federal and state governments to split the tab. States would have the option to participate.
"No one with drive and discipline should be denied a college education simply because they can't pay for it," Obama said Friday. "A college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class."
Obama's would also require congressional legislation, which is expected to be difficult now that Republicans control both the House and Senate.
If every state participated, the proposal could help 9 million students and save full-time enrollees an average of $3,800 a year, according to the White House.
Sara O'Brien contributed to this report.