Michelle Miller-AdamsMay 28, 2021
The Path to Free College
In Pursuit of Access, Equity, and Prosperity
Harvard Education Press 2021
In The Path to Free College: In Pursuit of Access, Equity, and Prosperity (Harvard Education Press, 2021), Michelle Miller-Adams argues that tuition-free college, if pursued strategically and in alignment with other sectors, can be a powerful agent of change. She makes the case that broadly accessible and affordable higher education is in the public interest, yielding dividends not just for individuals but also for the communities, states, and nation in which they reside. Miller-Adams offers a comprehensive analysis of the College Promise movement--its history, impacts, and unintended consequences--and its relationship to access, affordability, and workforce readiness.
These factors are explored through data, analysis, and case studies of existing place-based scholarship programs. She also examines historical precursors of the free-college movement and evaluates the possibility of national action. The Path to Free College outlines how the design of free-college programs should relate to programmatic goals and explores the suitability of different approaches. In addition, the book describes both the need for and the challenges of implementing a nationwide free-college program, as well as the variety of models and research-based evidence. Given the raging national debate about tuition-free college, the moment is right for a book that assesses state and local efforts and offers policy leaders and practitioners guidance going forward. The Path to Free College asserts that the promise of private and public gains warrants public investment in tuition-free college.
Stephen Pimpare is director of the Public Service & Nonprofit Leadership program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.