Policy Resource Center

The Policy Research Center (PRC) features research on state and community initiatives to address the problem of college affordability. Strategies that help students enroll and succeed in college are highlighted under Summits on College Affordability and will continue to be a focus as we build this resource. Additionally, the PRC contains CFCT’s national plan to make college tuition free.




We believe college tuition should and can be free, just as it is in Tennessee, Oregon, and increasing numbers of states and communities across the country. 
Here's how we'll get it done.

Briefing Book

The Campaign for Free College Tuition is happy to provide you with Making Public Colleges Tuition Free: A Briefing Book for State Leaders.

We have designed the briefing book to help state policymakers think through the elements of making college tuition free. Accordingly, it contains advice on funding, building support, drafting policy, and many proven examples of successful programs. Throughout the briefing book CFCT outlines different provisions we believe will produce a return on a state’s investment, which more than justify the establishment of such programs.

This document, however, does not suggest there is only one path states must follow to make their colleges tuition free.

The Plan

Click to expand/explore steps


Federal dollars are redirected to create an National Promise Scholarship (NPS) program that would provide every academically qualified student from a lower or middle income family enough money to pay for tuition at either a two or four year college.  

  • Students from families earning less than $180,000 per year who are accepted by a community college or other two year certificate program would be entitled to an NPS-2 scholarship worth $2,500 per year.
  • Students from families earning less than $180,000 per year who earned a 2.75 GPA in High School and were accepted to a four year college program would be entitled to an NPS-4 scholarship worth, on average, $8,500 per year.
  • Public colleges and universities would not be allowed to charge families who were residents of their state more for tuition than the value of the NPS scholarship established for their state.
  • Value of scholarships would be adjusted annually based on CPI.
  • These scholarships would eliminate need for tuition tax credits and in some cases, Pell Grants, which would provide approximately $50B to fund what should become an entitlement program in the federal budget. 

Use Income Based Repayment loans if needed to cover student’s living expenses, repayable based on post-graduation income, and write off portions of principal upon completion of degree program as well as military or community service.   

  • Upon graduation, write off 5% of the amount of any student loans owed for each year of college completed.
  • Double this write off for each person who completes at least two years of approved community service after graduation.
  • Triple this write off for each person who serves in the military for at least two years.
  • Pay for these write offs by reducing the amount of profits the federal government currently makes on student loans. 

Create incentives for states to do their part to make college affordable by changing funding formulas, controlling costs, and overhauling the delivery of remedial education.

  • Tuition levels for in-state residents should be tied to median family income or GDP per capita in that state, linking in state tuition to what the average family can afford. 
  • States should set price of tuition based on what it ought to cost, rather than actual or average costs per student, to push back against cost plus inflationary pressures.
  • States should overhaul their existing delivery systems for remedial education and to the greatest extent possible invest resources at the high school level in the form of early student interventions that ultimately avoid payments for remedial education courses at the college level.
  • Revenue increases from more students paying more regulated tuition fees would help pay for these programs as would efficiencies from revised remedial education system.
  • States should also use rising revenue from a growing economy to pay for any additional costs.  

Increase college enrollments and graduation rates by making an early promise to students to cover their costs of attending college, providing them with mentoring and counseling services in college, and creating incentives for colleges to enroll and graduate “First Generation” students. 

  • Create a voluntary “Opportunity and Responsibility” curriculum to acquaint middle and high school students with the benefits of a higher education.
  • Use matching Federal grants to encourage public/private “Promise Partnerships” to support and mentor students who are the first in their family to attend college.
  • Create incentives from both federal and state government for colleges to enroll and graduate students who are the first in their family to attend college.  
  • Redirect current state and federal higher education expenditures to pay for some of these programs; use a performance grant approach at the federal level for the others.  


Want more details?

Read the full plan







CFCT has fostered a dialogue on efforts to make college tuition free by hosting Summits on College Affordability across the country.

The results of these discussion continue to guide our discussions with elected officials and other policy makers. More importantly they have solidified CFCT’s leadership in the growing movement to make public colleges tuition-free.



Tennessee    FEATURED SUMMIT  

The Campaign for Free College Tuition's Southern regional Summit on College Affordability was held in Nashville on March 30th and included representatives from 10 states – including gubernatorial staff and State Higher Education Executive Officers – anxious to learn about the Tennessee Promise program and other pioneering place-based scholarship programs in the South. We were also glad that former Arkansas Lt. Governor, and current CFCT steering committee member, Bill Halter, was able to join us.

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Featured Research

New Poll: Bipartisanship Lives!

Bipartisan. Seems almost like a quaint harkening to a prior time. Like drying clothes on the line or having an operator assist in making a long distance phone call. In an era in which we constantly focus on that which separates us along political lines, there appears to be at least one issue that brings back the true meaning of the word bipartisan: free college.

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Poll Finds Americans Across Party Lines Support Free College

A majority of Americans from all political persuasions support state programs making college tuition free for those academically qualified. The polling conducted by Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) on behalf of the Campaign for Free College Tuition (CFCT) after November’s election indicates that state-level programs to make college tuition free enjoy support in both red and blue states.

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How Expensive Is Free College for States?

The Campaign for Free College Tuition released a report detailing the estimated cost to each state of making their public colleges and universities tuition free. The research authored by Mark Schneider, Vice President and Institute Fellow at the American Institute for Research (AIR) and made possible by a generous grant from the ECMC Foundation, establishes a baseline for state policymakers to discuss appropriations and the eventual return that they might expect on such an investment.

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We can't do this alone!

Our goal is to make higher education a possibility for every American, without regard to their financial circumstances.

We have a lot to do and not much time to do it, so your support is critical for our campaign to succeed. It’s with your investment that we can fundamentally reform how higher education is financed in this country, opening the doors to a more equitable society.

If you agree with our goal, our plan, and the urgency of the problem, we ask that you give what you can to help us write the next chapter in our nation’s history of continuously expanding access to universal, free education.

The Campaign for Free College Tuition is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in the State of Washington in 2014 to educate parents, students, the higher education community, policy makers and taxpayers about efforts needed to fundamentally reform our nation’s system for financing higher education. This website and CFCT’s educational outreach activities are made possible through generous individual and foundation support.