Sunday, December 14, 2008

Community Colleges - An Affordable, Quality Education

Figure from NYTimes
Interesting story in the NY Times. The gap in the growth of median family income and college tuition and fees is staggering. In fact, it's unsustainable if we expect to compete with other nations. At the community college we also are faced with increasing tuition. At my institution, the 3-digit $100 barrier was for many years a psychological watermark. We worked very hard to keep our per credit tuition under $100 - reasoning that students would more easily part with $99 per credit versus $101 per credit. Unfortunately, increasing costs have caught up with us as well - we're at $108 per credit now. Here's a bit from our website - for in-county residents:
As of July 1, 2008 tuition is $108 per credit (to a maximum of $1,620 per term, based on a 15-credit maximum); and the general services fee (see below; set at 22 percent of tuition) is $25.92 per credit( to a maximum of $388.80 per term).
So that's just over $2,000 for a semester or roughly $8,000 for a two-year degree. Not each, but compare that to a semester at a typical four-year school.
Interestingly, a down economy usually has the reverse effect at two-colleges versus four-year colleges and universities. We're seeing a spike in enrollment. Community colleges are one of this country's best kept secrets - a quality education at an affordable price.
Higher Education May Soon Be Unaffordable for Most Americans, Report Says
The rising cost of college — even before the recession — threatens to put higher education out of reach for most Americans, according to the biennial report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Over all, the report found, published college tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007 while median family income rose 147 percent. Student borrowing has more than doubled in the last decade, and students from lower-income families, on average, get smaller grants from the colleges they attend than students from more affluent families.

“If we go on this way for another 25 years, we won’t have an affordable system of higher education,” said Patrick M. Callan, president of the center, a nonpartisan organization that promotes access to higher education.

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