President Barack Obama surprised observers by proposing making community college free, as has been done in Tennessee and is under consideration in other states.

The president dropped his unexpected idea in a video recorded aboard Air Force One and released on Facebook just as officials were briefing reporters on the plan.

Congressional approval is required—a tenuous prospect, despite longtime bipartisan support for higher education opportunity, in a government that is now even more sharply divided among the political parties—and there are also caveats about community colleges improving their very low graduation rates.

For previous Hechinger Report coverage of the free college idea, click here.

Jon Marcus

Jon Marcus is a higher education editor at the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education news outlet based at Teachers College, Columbia University.