The Campaign for Free College Tuition (CFCT) is a bi-partisan, inter-generational coalition of individuals and groups who believe today's economy requires the country to make higher education affordable for everyone if we are going to have a workforce with the skills needed for us to compete in the global marketplace. Established as a 501c3 non-profit in 2014, CFCT has been at the forefront of the free college tuition movement since its inception.
CFCT evolved from discussions that started in 2013 among a group of former elected officials and policy experts who wanted to make another contribution to America’s future. As we were coming of age, we were forcefully reminded by John F. Kennedy that the responsibility of being born into such a privileged period is a requirement to give back and we saw CFCT as perhaps our last, best chance to respond to his call. The discussions grew to include academicians, Millennial groups and business leaders who were interested in finding the best way to address the challenges of college access, affordability, and attainability.
At the end of our discussions, we made a mutual commitment to create a national public policy that eliminates cost as a barrier to attaining such an education for every American who is academically ready and personally determined to earn a post-secondary degree or certificate. We do not plan to do this alone. A partnership with tomorrow’s leaders and workers, our children and grandchildren, must be forged to convince our elected officials to make the needed changes.
We believe that it is time for older Americans to provide younger generations with many of the same possibilities we enjoyed by fundamentally reforming our nation’s system for financing higher education. The growing divide between family income and higher education cost increases have made the current system unworkable. Without fundamental changes the problems will get even worse.
The Campaign for Free College Tuition is building a broad inter-generational coalition in support of increasing opportunity and building a stronger economy by making public colleges tuition free. Please join our Campaign by signing up for alerts today and by sharing your own commitment to making college tuition free with your friends and colleagues.
The Campaign for Free College Tuition
Board of Directors
Morley Winograd is a nationally known expert on the Millennial generation. He is co-author (with Mike Hais) of three highly acclaimed books, “Millennial Momentum” (2011), “Millennial Makeover” (2008), and “Millennial Majority” (2013) on the impact the generation will have on America’s future. Morley is also a Senior Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. He served as senior policy advisor to Vice President Al Gore during the second term of the Clinton administration and directed its reinventing government efforts.
Doug Ross has started and managed public charters schools in Michigan. His work currently focuses on learning how to turn around failing urban high schools. Doug has also had a distinguished public service career. During President Clinton’s first term, he was Assistant U.S. Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training; and previously served as Michigan’s Director of Commerce and a member of the Michigan Senate.
Prior to founding his public affairs firm in 1987, Laird served as assistant director of the Community Services Administration during the Carter administration and Chief Policy Assistant for Governor Booth Gardner of Washington. As a consultant, Laird provides public affairs and strategic communication planning services, facilitates efforts to resolve disputes and identify common interests among government and private sector officials, and works with executives and boards of directors on strategic planning. Laird also has extensive campaign management experience and teaches strategic communications at the University of Washington.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely not! America has always used government resources to provide sufficient funds to those willing and able to acquire the skills and knowledge they needed to be successful. Americans have always understood that education is the economic driver for the entire nation. Now it’s time to expand that concept from primary and secondary education (K-12) to higher education to ensure we have a skilled workforce capable of competing in the 21st Century economy. Some states have already undertaken this expansion by making their community colleges tuition free. Luckily, this is an idea with bipartisan support, so we’re confident we can make it happen across the country.
Since nothing is ever really free, many people ask us this question. States such as Tennessee and Oregon, which have made their community colleges tuition free, found the money for these programs by making it a priority in their state budgeting process. Any state could do the same. Over three dozen communities have also made college tuition free by instituting “Promise Programs,” which offer, in effect, place-based college scholarships for their residents. Funds for these types of programs have come from a combination of private philanthropy and community commitments. Other innovative ideas include leveraging the purchasing power of local government agencies using the Community Link Foundation’s procurement model, tapping private investment funds through social impact bonds, or involving local employers to support associate degree programs that produce the skilled workers those employers need. While none of these sources depend on federal government revenue, many of them make maximum use of existing student aid programs such as Pell Grants to help fund their “promise.”
CFCT has a four step plan that calls for the creation of a federally funded National Promise Scholarship to provide every academically qualified student from low and middle income families enough money to pay in-state tuition at public two and four year colleges. Our plan calls for increasing both state and federal investments in higher education but not for raising federal income taxes to pay for it. The federal government actually already spends enough money in support of higher education to cover tuition for every public college student in America. We just need to get smarter about how we spend that money.
In January of 2014, President Obama proposed his America’s College Promise plan that would make every community college tuition free in partnership with the states. Both Democratic presidential candidates endorsed the idea and suggested different ways to expand the concept to four year institutions. Some of their ideas were incorporated into the Democratic Party’s platform in 2016. Meanwhile, Republicans have proposed ways to reduce the cost of college in order to curb the rate at which tuition has been rising. All of these ideas will undoubtedly be the subject of an extensive national debate once the 2016 elections are over. But the real push for making college tuition free will continue to come from the local level not from the top. That’s why it’s so important to continue to build on the momentum that already exists in favor of free college tuition.
Thanks for asking! We can only achieve our goal of making college tuition free in all fifty states if we work together. The first thing you can do is educate yourself on the issue. Check out our website. It contains a wealth of information on what states and communities are doing to start their own Promise programs that make college tuition free for their residents. And our Policy Resource Center is designed to give you insights and ideas on how to shape such a program in your own community. Then become an advocate for free college tuition on social media and find friends to join the cause. Sign up below, and we'll make sure you stay fully informed as our cause in favor of free college tuition continues to build momentum.
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.