The issue of how expensive college has become dominates the news almost every week. We found this recent article on Forbes that recommends that American Students can slash their college tuition bill by studying abroad. That’s because according to the article, in the 10 years from 2002 to 2012, the price of undergraduate college eduction – tuition, room and board at public universities rose 40%. If that is the increase in public colleges, one can only imagine what is happening at private universities, where costs rise much faster without any regulation or interference. It is therefore fair to say that the cost of higher education is out of control and something needs to be done to make it more affordable, otherwise, a whole section of students, especially those from poor homes are going to be priced out. Are we headed to a time when getting a college education is reserved for the rich and kids form the middle class only? If public universities are now becoming unaffordable, what other options are out there for kids who want to get a higher education degree but can’t afford public or private universities?
Why Congress Should Invest in Community Colleges
That is why we are recommending that Congress invest in Community Colleges as an alternate to four year universities, so that students who cannot afford the cost of 4 year universities have an option when it comes to higher education. There are several benefits to the country in investing in the growth of two year colleges. First, they are great places for job training. Since the recession of 2008, millions of Americans have found themselves under employed or unemployed. Many have struggled to return to full time employment because they lack the skills to compete with younger applicants. Investing in re-training programs is a quick way to get these people back into the workforce and give them a chance at a second career.
Another reason to invest in community colleges is that they are the fastest route to financial security and prosperity for many. Those who enter the workforce early out of high school, either due to financial or family obligation find it very difficult to get to a four year college since those are more structured to cater to full time students. Community colleges provide the flexibility for working people and parents to be able to get a higher education in a way that accommodates their work and home obligations. Providing grants and scholarship programs targeted at those who are trying to develop news skills, change careers, move up their careers or better themselves can take advantage of this. If you look at the list of community colleges in the United States, they are usually located close to public transport and in areas that are easily accessible, versus 4 year colleges that seek sprawling isolated campuses that may not be convenient for working parents or full time employees.
There is data to show that when it comes to healthcare jobs, welding, automotive and high tech manufacturing, the best training ground for people who go into these jobs are community colleges. And in these scenarios, we think two year colleges are a better option than 4 year colleges. As the video above shows, these junior colleges help students train for a range of jobs in a particular field. Second, they form the basic for a four year college. Most associates degrees awarded in two year colleges in the sciences and arts are geared towards transfers to four year colleges.
States Leading the Way
States like California are beginning to see the tremendous benefits of community colleges and are taking steps to make them affordable. It is our belief that more states will follow California’s example, which will be a giant step forward in making college education more affordable.