Community colleges play a critical role in U.S. higher education. And with President Obama’s new proposal to provide students with access to two years of community college, it’s clear that many people, in all corners of the United States, see community colleges’ incredible value to individual success, as well as to the success of the nation.

Each one of us hopes to see more and more people gain access to the education that prepares them for professional and personal success. But that’s only one piece of the puzzle—to ensure that students realize this goal, we also need to do everything we can to increase student engagement and retention.

In the video featured below, Cengage Learning’s CEO Michael Hansen shares his perspective on President Obama’s call for free access to community colleges. He highlights the role of community colleges as “the backbone of the U.S. higher education system,” while also stating: “Providing more access is not going to be the full answer; it’s going to be part of the answer. The critical thing we have to focus on is understanding when and why these dropouts happen in community colleges.”

What’s your perspective on President Obama’s statement—and on the value of community colleges? Please share your thoughts in the comments.