The Star Tribune featured a free college program at Pine Technical College that has boosted enrollment at a time when enrollment is going down at community colleges across the state.

"I think that we've shown that the lower cost college is, the more people will participate in it," Mulford said.

Mulford, Hallan and Mike Dean, executive director of the community college student association LeadMN, believe Pine Tech and its community have stumbled upon a college affordability solution that can be replicated elsewhere.

Especially, Dean said, since the Biden administration recently dropped from its spending bill a federal proposal to make two years of community college tuition-free. "I think it shows a policy opportunity that can work across the state, that is bipartisan, that can really address these enrollment issues," Dean said of the Pine County effort.

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