New Initiative to Boost Community Colleges

June 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm 1 comment

A new group called Rebuilding America’s Middle Class, comprised of community college leaders from Virginia, Louisiana,  North Carolina, and Indiana, convened their first meeting last week to start building support and funding for community colleges. As the Charlotte Observer reports, demand for workers with a post-secondary education has gone up, but federal policies and programs for community colleges haven’t kept up with the rising demand.

Community colleges will continue to serve as key pathways for career development and economic mobility. In North Carolina, community colleges are increasingly important. Enrollment increased by 14 percent from 2007 to 2010.  The National Skills Coalition shows that “middle skills jobs”– those that require some post-secondary education, but not a full college degree– will make up half the jobs in the state in 2016.

Although they are affordable compared to universities costs are nevertheless rising at community colleges, while  financial aid for students is limited. Only a third of community colleges in the state provide federal student loan programs. Many students do not complete their studies because of financial strain.

The conveners of Rebuilding America’s Middle Class are hoping that they can increase awareness of the importance of community colleges and get more funding and support from federal programs. Expanding access to certification, vocational, and associate’s degree programs would be a big boost for state economies. In particular, it would help many low-income and minority students get the education they need to get good jobs and start careers.

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Entry filed under: Economic Development. Tags: .

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