President Obama has proposed making two years of community college tuition-free for all. That’s an excellent plan. Too many young people are priced out of any higher educAtion, and this removes affordability as an obstacle. Community colleges were originally underwritten by state and local governments to expand access, so this plan restores the original purpose of the community college. My hope would be that this plan would not only open the doors of higher education to many students, but would undercut predatory for-profit online “universities.”

This was reported in this morning:

“By Caitlin Emma

With help from Eliza Collins and Allie Grasgreen

COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR EVERYONE: President Barack Obama is headed to Pellissippi State Community College in Tennessee today, where he’ll propose making two years of community college free “for everybody who’s willing to work for it.” But he’ll need the approval of Congress to make it happen. So far, the plan doesn’t have a price tag – at least not officially; all White House officials will say is it’s “significant.” If all 50 states participate, the proposal could benefit 9 million students each year and save them an average of $3,800 in tuition. (David Leonhardt of The New York Times estimated the cost could reach $15 billion annually: But administration officials insist it’s “a proposal with bipartisan appeal.” The plan is inspired by – but not identical to – the Tennessee Promise, the brainchild of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. More from Allie Grasgreen: Watch Obama speak in Knoxville at 1:20 p.m. ET:

– Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was quick to state his support Thursday night, framing community colleges as “a more affordable, higher quality alternative to for-profit colleges.”

– But there are potential drawbacks, said Don Heller, dean of Michigan State University’s College of Education. Take California, he said, where many students enroll at community colleges because they aren’t admitted to the University of California. “Should we really be giving those kids free tuition when their families can pay?” Heller asked. Further, he said, why not just offer two years’ worth of tuition at any institution? “By focusing this on just community college students, are we going to lose out on some students that could benefit by going and starting at a four-year university?”