States are digging into their federal stimulus money to help finance community colleges, where rising tuition, soaring enrollment, and budget cuts threaten to shut students out of the system, Stateline.org reports. But the $144 billion in stimulus money for state and local fiscal relief won’t make up for budget cuts in every state. Miami Dade College, the nation’s largest community college with 167,000 students, will be forced to limit enrollment this fall because of state budget cuts. California officials, anticipating a 33 percent enrollment increase this summer and fall, said they may have to turn away 250,000 community college students because they can’t afford to accept them. Nationwide, the number of students attending two-year community colleges is growing. In all, community colleges now enroll almost half of all undergraduates. The number of students attending community college increases during an economic downturn, said Norma Kent, vice president of communications at the American Association of Community Colleges in Washington, D.C. Laid-off workers return to school to gain skills they hope will boost their chances of landing another job, and traditional college-age students enroll in community colleges because it costs an average of $2,361 a year, or three times less than average costs at four-year state institutions…

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