College Guide

Blog

January 20, 2010 2:57 PM Community Colleges Not Ready for Obama’s Education Targets

By Daniel Luzer

Community colleges have a lot of work ahead of them if they’re going to create 5 million new graduates, as President Obama plans. According to an article in Diverse Issues in Higher Education:

States’ higher education systems must dramatically overhaul themselves if they intend to fulfill President Obama’s goal of remaking America home to the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020, experts said during a conference held by the University of Southern California.

The trouble is that the only new funding for Obama’s community college plan, the America Graduates Initiative, will come from new competitive grants to “enable community colleges and states to innovate and expand proven reforms.”

But currently community colleges receive most of their funding from student tuition and state support, not the federal government. Community colleges collect less than one-third the level of federal funding as public four-year colleges.

Even state support is shrinking: state support for community colleges is expected to decrease 4 percent this year. This is at a time when enrollments are increasing dramatically. If the federal government has new plans for community colleges, the colleges unsurprisingly expect a lot more funding to make that happen.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer