Michelle Miller-Adams Answers Fundamental Question “Why Free College?”

Posted by Morley Winograd on May 05, 2021 at 8:08 AM

In her newest book, The Path to Free College, Michelle Miller-Adams, the most authoritative voice on free college tuition in the country, gives readers a chance to learn everything they need to know about the idea that began in her hometown of Kalamazoo, MI and which today animates the Campaign for Free College Tuition’s work.

Using research data, personal stories, and comparisons of existing state and local Promise programs, Michelle answers the fundamental question that forms the book’s recurring theme, “Why Free College?”

In just six chapters, she thoroughly documents the concept’s positive impact on making higher education more affordable and more equitable, while providing better employment opportunities for both the individuals who benefit from such programs and the economies of the communities and states who invest in them. Once you read this book you will know why the idea has spread so rapidly across the country and is now commanding so much attention nationally.

Having been witness to the creation of free college tuition or Promise programs at the community level, Michelle is rightfully proud of how the idea has bubbled up from its local origins to become the most popular, bipartisan educational policy initiative at the state level as well. About half of the fifty states now offer in one form or another free college tuition to those residents who choose to accept it.

But, as she points out in her book, diffusion of innovation takes not just a good idea but time to make it happen. Building, as Michelle has done, effective and efficient communication and social systems are necessary to achieve complete implementation, which the nation has yet to accomplish. The coming debate in Congress over President Biden’s proposals for free college tuition will help spread the word about its benefits even further, but only passage of federal legislation will provide the resources needed to advance the idea even further at a scale and scope worthy of the benefits she documents.

Harvard University Professors Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz in The Race Between Education and Technology identified three “transformations” that have taken place in American education since the country’s founding. The first created publicly funded common schools-- free and universally available to all. The second launched the high school movement and made their child walking across the stage to get a diploma the expectation of every American parent. But the third, making universal higher education available to all, remains a work in progress.  

But, today a high school diploma is more a ticket to a dead-end job than a comfortable middle-class existence. Now is the time to once again use the power of public education to help more Americans gain value-added skills, find career directions and achieve economic prosperity.

Michelle Miller-Adams book, The Path to Free College, describes the course that the country must travel as quickly as possible.

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.