Yesterday, President Obama announced new grant programs for community colleges. If Congress approves the funding (which is slated to come from subsidies formerly given to private lenders), it will be aimed at new programs for community colleges along with training opportunities and increased funds for tracking students. Some funding would also go towards repairing and replacing infrastructure. A final portion would go towards reducing or eliminating the cost of online education, an important prospect in a state like Pennsylvania, which includes five regions without access to community colleges.
Why are community colleges so important? To begin with, their alumni earn 30% more than high school graduates. State and local governments earn a 16% return on every dollar they invest in community colleges.
More importantly, at a time when workers need middle skills education (some college, though not necessarily a degree), community colleges are crucial to receiving that training. In Pennsylvania, where many residents lack the middle skills needed for the jobs of the future, community colleges will play an important role in the coming years.