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College Success Arizona Sees Community Colleges as Key to Reaching State’s College Attainment Goal

839 Days ago

New Policy Brief Recommends Steps Necessary to Support Community Colleges’ Efforts

Phoenix, AZ, Oct. 02, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- College Success Arizona’s new policy brief, Prioritizing Access and Opportunity: How Community Colleges Contribute to Increased Attainment and Economic Growth in Arizona, details the importance of community colleges in achieving Arizona’s goal of reaching 60 percent college attainment by 2030, and in boosting the state’s economic prosperity through increasing graduates’ earning potential.

“Without greater state support for community colleges, Arizona will not reach its attainment goal of 60 percent,” said Rich Nickel, President and CEO, College Success Arizona. “Attainment drives economic growth, enhances workforce competitiveness, and improves economic mobility for students and families, which is why our partners with the Achieve60AZ initiative are committed to achieving this goal across the state.”

In Arizona, community colleges enrolled 53 percent more students than four-year institutions in 2017. Community colleges provide broad access to educational opportunity, especially for students from underrepresented groups in higher education such as racial and ethnic minorities and students from low-income families. The brief also reports that a graduate with an associate degree earns nearly 17 percent more per week than someone with only a high school diploma.

At the same time, Maricopa and Pima community college districts – the Arizona’s two largest in terms of enrollment – were completely defunded by the state in 2015.

“Without community colleges, Arizona’s higher education system would be a shadow of its current self,” said Nickel. “Too often their importance is rendered invisible, perhaps because community colleges are regarded as a lesser alternative to four-year colleges and universities rather than as the vital higher education institutions they are.”

College Success Arizona outlines four key ways that the state can support the attainment goal through supporting community colleges. 

  • Restoring full funding for Maricopa and Pima community colleges; 
  • Expanding access to dual enrollment and dual credit opportunities for high school students; 
  • Implementing policies and programs designed to help community college students navigate the transfer process to four-year institutions; and 
  • Maintaining funding equalization and continuing to expand support for community colleges in rural areas.

About College Success Arizona
College Success Arizona works to significantly increase the college attainment rate of students in Arizona, particularly for those who otherwise would not be able to attend or graduate, such as low-income, first generation, and Latino students. We advocate for long-term, sustainable policy solutions that address key challenges in Arizona. Our priorities include closing information gaps that limit college-going culture, working to improve college affordability and increase state financial aid, and advocating for increased attainment statewide to drive economic growth. Visit www.collegesuccessaz.org to learn more. 

Liv Jacobson

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