A wonderful idea, but how do you pay for it? That’s how the head of the Illinois Community College Board sizes up President Obama’s proposal for a tuition waiver system for people working their way through the first two years of college.

“It recognizes the important role that community colleges play in the state’s higher education system,” says executive director Karen Hunter Anderson, “and in providing workforce education and in economic development for the state.”

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Will Congress buy in? Unlikely, she says.

Anderson says many of the state’s 48 community colleges already offer similar “promise” programs, and students also can apply for MAP grants and other forms of aid.

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