Biden wants to direct billions in education funding to community colleges.

There are more than five million students enrolled at the nation’s 1,000 community colleges, and President Biden’s $1.8 trillion American Families Plan could give many of them a considerably strengthened line to the middle class.

The plan, which Mr. Biden is expected to lay out Wednesday night in his first address to a joint session of Congress, calls for community college to be free for all Americans. Proponents of the idea say it would relieve some of the burdens on low-income and working-class college students, many of whom struggle to cover tuition while also paying for rent, food and other basic needs.

But critics question whether it makes sense to give public two-year colleges so much federal funding, saying that many low-income students perform better at four-year universities. Others point out that community college is already free or low cost in many states.

Mr. Biden’s higher education proposal includes more than $300 billion in expenditures aimed primarily at community college students and people attending historically Black colleges and universities, and would be funded in part by increased taxes on the wealthy.

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