Study: Community college affordability crisis puts workforce at risk
- A new study from the Institute for Research on Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania reveals that higher education is statistically unaffordable for most low-income college students in 37 states, including community colleges, with costs now exceeding 21% of average family median income.
- To afford community college in states like New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota and Maine, students will have to work at least 20 hours a week to finance the average costs of attendance.
- Officials say that the lack of college access is putting workforce development in technical and professional industries at risk, which could stunt economic growth in home buying and family planning for many families.
Executives at community colleges confront many of the same issues faced by four-year institutions, because the predominant number of their students face cost concerns on scale with their tuition and fee price points. And in the same ways universities seek partnerships to support scholarship and program funding, two-year institutions should work to establish workforce partnerships to create job opportunities for students and graduates in key fields.
Partnerships like that between the University of Wisconsin's Cooperative Extension and John Deere are an example of how companies and community colleges help students find jobs needed to finance education and establish work experience that supports postgraduate hiring opportunities.