Source: Inside Higher Ed

Free college programs have continued to launch at the state and local level. And this election cycle, more candidates than ever are running on the idea. The free-college programs already enacted in states like Oregon, Tennessee and New York illustrate the extent to which state-funded programs are shaped by local circumstances. These and most other state-level programs are “last-dollar” models — the state covers whatever need is left unmet after a student exhausts their federal aid options, so much of those resources go to middle-class students, not the poor. Two recent reports from the Institute for Higher Education Policy and Ed Trust — both nonpartisan groups focused on equity in postsecondary education — reinforced concerns many already had about free college. Both reports found that tuition-free college programs often fail to meet the needs of the poorest students and overlook costs of attendance beyond tuition.