In The Path to Free College, 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. The author explores these factors 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.
About the Author
Michelle Miller-Adams is a senior researcher at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and a professor of political science at Grand Valley State University. An expert on asset-building and economic development strategies, she received her PhD in political science and master of international affairs from Columbia University, and bachelor of arts in history from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her professional career has spanned the fields of nonprofit management, finance, research, and academia. Miller-Adams is the author of the first book on the Kalamazoo Promise, The Power of a Promise: Education and Economic Renewal in Kalamazoo (W.E. Upjohn Institute, 2009) and an e-book on the free college movement entitled Promise Nation: Transforming Communities through Place-Based Scholarships (W.E. Upjohn Institute, 2015). She was the principal investigator for a Ford Foundation-sponsored research project that culminated in the publication of Owning Up: Poverty, Assets, and the American Dream (Brookings Institution Press, 2002). She is also the author of The World Bank: New Agendas in a Changing World (Routledge, 1999). Miller-Adams speaks regularly with local and national media about free-college programs and consults with states and communities designing their own Promise initiatives. Miller-Adams lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with her daughter and two dogs.