NC’s Essential but Underfunded Community Colleges

>>communitycollegeGovernor Pat McCrory says community colleges are >>key to North Carolina’s economic recovery, and he’s right. Since the beginning of the Great Recession, tens of thousands of adults who lost their jobs have enrolled at community colleges to train for new careers. Meanwhile, for hundreds of thousands of recent high school graduates, community colleges provide an affordable way to continue their education.

Good-paying jobs often require some education beyond high school. In fact, >>a study from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce found that “>>nearly 61 percent of jobs in North Carolina will require some form of post-secondary education as early as 2020.”

But >>the state legislature has repeatedly cut community college’s per-student funding, forcing them to >>cut course offerings and eliminate programs that serve their communities, like free classes for senior citizens. This year, >>state funding for community colleges falls $16.1 million short.

Now Governor McCrory wants to change how the state funds community colleges. He acknowledges that some courses in technology and health care tend to cost more money for the colleges to provide, but they attract more students because they can lead to higher-paying jobs. McCrory wants to give community colleges more money for those costly courses – which will undoubtedly mean less money for lower-cost courses.

Community college leaders feel understandably cautious about the proposal. As the president of Wake Tech pointed out, >>schools are already moving money from lower-cost programs to support those with higher costs.

But while courses like English composition may cost less to provide than courses on medical laboratory technology, they are essential for students hoping to secure an associate’s degree or transfer their credits to a four-year university.

In the end, shuffling money between courses doesn’t help anyone when there is simply >>not enough funding to go around.


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