Jill Biden to advocate for debt-free community college as next first lady
Jill Biden, the incoming first lady and wife of President-elect Joe Biden, reportedly has plans to advocate for debt-free community college once she moves into the White House in January.
According to a close source who spoke to Yahoo News, Jill Biden plans to make this goal a focus as first lady, in addition to using her more than 30 years as an educator to assist in advancing her husband’s education platform, which includes a proposal to make all public college and universities tuition-free for students whose families earn less than $125,000.
Dr. Martha Kanter, who served as under secretary of education in the Obama administration and who has known Jill Biden for more than a decade, told Yahoo News that debt-free community college has been a long-time goal for the former second lady.
“That is what she would like to see. We have often talked about community colleges as the unsung heroes,” Kanter said, adding that Biden has strived “to really help people understand the value proposition and the return on investment and why it’s important.”
Jill Biden has worked as an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009 and has indicated that she plans to continue teaching even as first lady.
“If we get to the White House, I’m gonna continue to teach,” she told “CBS Sunday Morning” in August. “It’s important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions, and lift up the profession.”
In 2015, then-President Barack Obama attempted to push forth legislation that would make the first two years of community college free for Americans “willing to work for it.” The bill ultimately failed to pass, facing GOP opposition in the Senate.
While President-elect Biden may face similar pushback if Republicans retain control of the Senate following January’s Georgia runoffs, the incoming first lady has “an informal but crucial role advising the president-elect,” a former staffer told Yahoo News.
“She’s been a pretty great sounding board throughout his career,” the staffer said. “She will have a very ambitious portfolio and I’m sure she’s particularly influential on the education front. She’s got decades of experience there.”
The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the incoming first lady’s education policy plans.
In her time as second lady, Jill Biden hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges, aimed at highlighting the role of community colleges in preparing students for the workforce, along with Obama’s goal of increasing the number of college graduates.
In 2012, Jill Biden traveled throughout the country with the Community College to Career tour in order to increase partnerships between schools and employers.