The Century Foundation
Policy Strategies for Pursuing Adequate Funding of Community Colleges
Community colleges are uniquely situated to address a paramount national challenge: reducing economic inequality. Students who complete an associate’s degree have higher rates of employment and significant earnings gains over those with only a high school degree or a general equivalency diploma (GED).1 With 86 percent of high school graduates going on to further postsecondary education and training,2 experts are increasingly emphasizing the central importance of high-quality programs that provide ample support to ensure that a high percentage of entrants graduate and enhance their lives and careers. As institutions that serve all students regardless of background and preparation and are located close to where students live and work, community colleges are pivotal in efforts to reduce economic inequality and restore the American Dream—but can only succeed if they are adequately funded.
“Adequate funding” may not have bumper sticker appeal. But the idea is simple and compelling: To help restore social mobility in America, policymakers must provide community colleges the resources necessary to successfully educate the country’s aspiring middle class.
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