However, many states have found that the current economic crunch and exceedingly high unemployment rate are forcing them to make difficult decisions when balancing their budgets. Some of those decisions involve cutting funding to institutions of higher education –just when schools need money the most. When less money is available, students tend to suffer from fewer services and crowded classes that make it difficult to graduate on time. Less funding also means fewer options in financial aid and higher tuition rates, which often price many low-income students right out of the community college market.
New Report Shows Shrinking Budgets Impacting Completion Rates
Last year, President Obama announced his ambitious plan to graduate five million more students from community colleges by 2020. According to a report at WhiteHouse.gov, the President believes this goal is necessary to ensure the United States can continue to be leaders in a global economy. However, boosting graduation rates at community colleges across the country may be easier said than done. To facilitate the process, California has developed a list of recommendations to increase graduation rates in that state, which could serve as a model for other states.
Room for Improvement
As shown in the graph above, data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that only 13 percent of community college students graduate in two years. Within three years, approximately 22 percent of students graduate, and within four years, the rate stands at 28 percent. Further data from AIR shows that only about 60% of college students graduate from four-year colleges and universities within six years. AIR vice president Mark Schneider claims that more than $9 billion is spent on these students each year by state and federal governments, yet all that funding fails to produce a college graduate that could bring those years of education to the country's workforce. While the AIR numbers are