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State aid for community colleges shrinks as demand rises

Chaaron Pearson on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 12:00:00 am

Community colleges across the country are losing state funding.  According to a Stateline analysis of Department of Education data, the state share of funding fell by one percentage point to 26.8 percent.  This drop doesn’t account for more severe cuts that states continue to debate as they work to close their budget gap. 

As state aid shrinks, community college enrollments are increasing at a rapid pace.  Federal statistics show a 20 percent increase in the number of students between 2004 and 2009.  Community colleges are providing training and education for unemployed workers and serving as a more affordable alternative to four-year schools for high school graduates.

Texas, Arizona and California community colleges are experiencing the greatest hit.  Community college administrators in Arizona expect to see the 1 percent state funding that they receive disappear in the coming years and California has had to turn away approximately 150,000 students due to overcrowded classrooms.  Texas community colleges will receive a 20 percent budget cut. 

These budget cuts are making administrators consider whether a community college can survive in this environment.  Administrators are worrying about rationing education in their communities and the possibility of leaving communities with no institutions of higher learning if the community college is forced to shut its doors.

Read more: Stateline – As enrollments soar and state aid vanishes, community colleges reconsider their role

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