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President Obama proposes making community college free

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Free education “for those willing to work for it.”

That’s what President Obama said he would like to see in an announcement the White House posted to Facebook and Vine on Thursday.

He’s proposing to make the first two years of community college free.

“Everyone understands that education is the key to success for our kids in the 21st century, but what we also understand is that it’s not just for kids. We also have to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to constantly train themselves for better jobs, better wages and better benefits,” the president said.

But it would require both the federal government and the states to split the tab. States would have the option to participate.

It would also require legislation, which could be tough now that Republicans control both the House and Senate.

If every state participated, the proposal could help 9 million students and save those enrolled full-time an average of $3,800 a year, according to the White House.

The program will be modeled after one in Tennessee, in which the state covers the cost of community college tuition for students that’s not already covered for them by grants and scholarships. It also requires the student to have a mentor, perform 8 hours of community service per term, as well as maintain a 2.0 GPA.

The president made the announcement from Air Force One as he continues a three-state tour that’s previewing some highlights of his State of the Union Address.

More details about the president’s education proposal will be announced on Friday when he visits Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville.