There are about 7.7 million students enrolled in community college, but that number could soon grow if states adopt the president’s proposal.
Jeffrey Denning, a Ph D student at the University of Texas at Austin, studied what happened when high school students suddenly got a discount on community college.
In Texas, community colleges are supported in part by local property taxes, so students who live in tax-paying districts get a special tuition rate.
On Wednesday, President Obama announced a plan to make community college free for all Americans.
The White House says the average student could save ,800 a year, as long as she makes good grades and progress toward graduation.
Denning looked at five communities in Texas where, over time, more and more districts joined a college’s tax base — meaning that more and more students became eligible for lower tuition at that college.
The discounts varied, but in general, costs were cut in half. Here’s what that process looked like: Denning compared students before and after the abrupt tuition change in each district.