This year we’ve been keeping an eye on how states get creative with affordability. This was initially sparked by America’s College Promise Proposal: Two years of tuition-free community college for responsible students. Over the past few months we’ve seen a lot of action around this topic, let’s take a look what additional initiative states are taking to make a college education more accessible.
Looking first and primarily at what progress individual states have made, so far, we have seen two additional states alongside Tennessee’s free community college program (Tennessee’s Promise Program): Oregon (the Oregon Promise) and Minnesota (College Occupational Scholarship Pilot Program). Ten other states have also introduced legislation to create their own free community college programs.
In addition, thirty-two states currently offer performance based funding at either two-year institutions, four-year institutions, or both. These states include: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Items taken into consideration for funding allocation based upon performance include: course completion, time to degree, transfer rates, the number of degrees awarded, or the number of low-income and minority graduates. Five additional states (Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, South Dakota and Vermont) have been approved to offer performance funding, and are in the process of resolving program details. , 
Looking at President Obama’s overall proposal, although it would require a 10 year federal investment of $79.7 billion, according to the American Association of Community Colleges, there has been a lot of discussion and rallying behind it. In an effort to see movement, legislation in response to the proposal was introduced to both the Senate and House in July, however, Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs for ACE doesn’t expect a big push for this proposal just yet.
“The president’s plan hasn’t, so far, gotten much traction on Capitol Hill for several reasons. It’s estimated to cost $60 billion over five years, but reauthorization [of the Higher Education Act] has not gotten underway in either the House or Senate to any significant degree,” said Hartle. 
Despite the slow progress, the excitement and effort around America’s College Promise Proposal has continued to spread this past year.
“We still feel we’re still working on this,” said David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and research for AACC, adding that this is a priority of the administration and they do want people to feel optimistic about it, although the odds are long that an actual program will resemble the size of the $60 billion America’s College Promise initiative, he said. 
Additionally, this proposal has started to make waves within the political world when it comes to putting education back on the agenda; Hilary Clinton has recently revealed that she also has a plan for students who need assistance with college tuition. 
Throughout the past few months we have seen a number of states that at the very least have attempted to get creative with affordability, if not succeeded. Whether their proposals have been approved or not, the increase in states showing interest and initiative is a start that we can appreciate- and hope to see continue with a steady increase.
What are your thoughts on the current initiative and progress within your state?