Nearly all California community colleges enrolled more students than the state paid for this academic year. Relative to their size, however, some two-year institutions are taking on significantly more of the state's nearly 202,000 unfunded students than others, despite the increased risk of doing so.
Illinois's main need-based grant program for college students, the Monetary Award Program, has been like a target in a shooting gallery in recent years, dodging many bullets but getting nicked more than a few times.
There is no dispute about just how bad things are for public higher education in Colorado. The governance structure has been weakened, and, like that of many states, Colorado's budget is a big-time mess. So nobody questions that something needed to be done, and fast, to get the state and its colleges through the next two years.
President Obama, foundation leaders and the heads of advocacy groups all agree that community colleges need to focus on more than access and drastically improve their generally low completion rates. By and large, these leaders believe that these institutions know, whether by research or common sense, just what to do – such as providing better academic advising, outreach to struggling students, financial aid to encourage full-time enrollment, smaller class sizes and so forth. So what’s the holdup?
Four-year institutions tend to bristle when nearby community colleges push to award baccalaureate degrees. In Missouri, the tables have turned: Officials at Three Rivers Community College are decrying plans by Southeast Missouri State University to award associate degrees in their backyard.
A Michigan community college that this year banned all child sex offenders from enrolling will now meet with all students who are felons or whose name appears on the state’s sex offender registry to determine if their enrollment should be revoked or their admission denied.
President Obama has used his bully pulpit to focus attention on the "college completion" agenda like no one else can. But if the United States is actually going to make meaningful progress on increasing the number of Americans with college credentials, it's going to be up to the states -- whose public institutions enroll roughly four of every five students -- to get the job done. And systemic change in the states will occur only if their chief executives -- governors -- get with the program.