College Funding

Community colleges are coping with major budget deficits, and this section covers how students are being impacted. From local fundraising efforts to federal grants, we’ll explore how community colleges are staying afloat despite funding cuts and cost increases.
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The California community college system has been struggling financially for some time, with state funding cuts totaling more than $8 million since 2008. Schools have been forced to cut back to the bare bones, with some cutting classes and others raising fees. The passage of Proposition 30 this November promises some relief for those floundering institutions, and community colleges are wasting no time finding ways to spend the extra dollars they are slated to receive in order to provide students with more classes and services they need to succeed.

What is Proposition 30?
Proposition 30, also referred to as the Sales and Income Tax Initiative, was a proposal by California Governor Jerry Brown to raise revenue for various needs throughout the state. The twofold proposal raised state sales tax from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent, while also increasing income taxes for those making $250,000 or more. The increases were temporary, with the additional sales tax continuing for four years and the income tax increase slated for seven years.
Of the revenues generated by the Sales and Income Tax Initiative, 89 percent would go directly to California public schools. The other 11 percent would be allotted to the state’s community college system. It is estimated that the bill would increase state revenue by $6 billion annually through 2017, and then by smaller amounts through 2019. According to the Los Angeles Times, that calculates out to around $210 million in additional funding for the community college system – funds that are . . . read more

Some community colleges struggling with slashed budgets can rejoice, with $500 million in grants issued to these educational institutions.  The grants will be provided through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative and the U.S. Department of Labor for the purpose of preparing qualified, skilled workers for a variety of in-demand industries. The initiative is part of a larger goal by the White House to expand the role of community colleges in building a workforce in America that is prepared to handle the needs of a global economy.

The grants were announced by Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, according to a press release at the United States Department of Labor website. A total of $500 million in grants will be issued to community college across the country that have demonstrated the ability to gear training programs to the needs of the area workforce. A total of 297 schools will receive grant funding, either individually or through consortiums. Schools will be allowed to use the funding as needed to expand workforce programs through additional staff, resources and learning materials.
Purpose of Job Training Grants
Solis explained in the Los Angeles Times that this funding will be used to restructure the priorities at community colleges across the country. In order to remain competitive in the new global workforce, American students must receive appropriate training for in-demand fields that are currently established or still in the development phase. This process requires a partnership between schools and leaders of . . . read more

It’s a fact: public funding for community colleges has been dwindling over the past several years, and so far, there is no indication it will ever come back. Despite the lack of money to pay for courses and services, the demand for a community college education is higher than it has ever been. Covering the widening gap is easier said than done, but some community college leaders are suggesting that privatization is the way to go.

AACC Annual Meeting Explores Privatization Issue
The American Association of Community Colleges has been discussing the dwindling funding issue for some time. However, Inside Higher Ed reports that the recent annual meeting of the organization was the first time the privatization issue was raised in earnest. Some of the community college leaders attending the meeting took a stand on the issue, stating that while they wished the situation was different, it was time to move to the next step.
“My own college behaves much more like a private college these days than a public,” Stephen M. Curtis, president of the Community College of Philadelphia, was reported saying at Inside Higher Ed. Curtis used this statement to encourage other community college leaders to at least consider the idea of privatization. Supporting his stand was Rufus Glasper, chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges.
“We have no choice. The state funds are gone forever,” Glasper told Inside Higher Ed.
The two are not alone in their support of privatizing community colleges, but they face plenty of concern and even outright opposition . . . read more

President Obama has spent much of his time in office putting the focus on community colleges. The President has labeled these schools an integral part of preparing future generations for the global marketplace. Recently, President Obama has taken his pledge to boost community college effectiveness even further, by putting his money where his mouth is. This month, the President announced an $8 billion plan to help train two million workers into high-paying jobs, using community colleges as the training ground.

The Plan is Unveiled
According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, President Obama announced his new plan on the campus of Northern Virginia Community College. The $8 billion program, dubbed the Community College to Career Program, is designed to help community colleges and local businesses partner together to provide training in the industries that need highly skilled workers. Some of the industries that will be the focus of the program, according to USA Today, include health care, clean energy and information technology.
“An economy built to last demands that we keep doing everything we can to help students learn the skills the businesses are looking for,” President Obama was reported saying in the Houston Chronicle.
The plan has been applauded by many in the community college system and business community, but members of Congress have voiced serious concern over where the $8 billion will come from to fund the program.
How the Money would be Used
The $8 billion fund would become a part of the . . . read more

While the Massachusetts community college system and state lawmakers mostly agree on the primary function of community colleges, not everyone is onboard with the governor’s new proposal for how to meet that function best. In Governor Deval Patrick’s recent State of the State address, Patrick proposed coordination of the state’s 15 community colleges under a single governing umbrella. The idea is to bring consistency to the system for the sake of better preparing the up and coming Massachusetts workforce. However, others see it as a way for the government to gain more control over the higher education system in the state.

What Patrick Proposed
In his address, Patrick emphasized the important role community colleges play in helping Massachusetts residents land jobs in fields that are looking for more workers. However, he asserted that the community colleges in his state could be going much further in helping match those looking for work with the industries looking for trained employees.
“There are 240,000 people still looking for work in Massachusetts and nearly 120,000 job openings,” Patrick is reported saying at the Newbury Port News. “Why? How can we have so much opportunity available and so many people still looking for their chance? Business leaders tell me over and over again that it is because the people looking for jobs don’t have the skills required.”
In response to this dilemma, Patrick has proposed a statewide coordination of the 15 community colleges currently educating students in Massachusetts. According to, the coordination would . . . read more
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