- The Progressive Pulse - http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org -

The community college summit and the economic reality

As the White House holds its first ever community college summit [1] Tuesday, policy analysts say more must be done to improve the affordability and the completion rates for North Carolinians seeking a postsecondary education.

Enrollment at North Carolina’s Community Colleges has risen 23% over the last two years. But many families are struggling to juggle the cost of tuition with health care costs, child care, and credit card debt. The result is that nearly half of all four-year college students drop out within six years of enrolling. The percentage of dropouts is even higher for two-year students.

Lucy Mayo, with the public policy research and advocacy organization Demos [2], says unfortunately many states are slashing higher education budgets and raising tuition to deal with budget shortfalls. In fact, tuition and fees at community colleges increased by 74% over nearly two decades (1991-2009) according to Demos.

Mayo, who co-authored the report Building North Carolina’s Future Middle Class [3], is among our guests this week on News & Views. She discusses the challenges and some of the solutions facing the Tar Heel state as President Obama sets a goal of five million more community college graduates [4] and certificate-holders by 2020.

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