Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Returns of Community College to Economic Mobility

Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Returns of Community College to Economic Mobility

Article excerpt

Community colleges play an important role in the U.S. higher education system. With their open admissions policies, less expensive tuition, and flexible curriculum and class schedules, community colleges serve groups that might not otherwise be able to pursue an education, such as first-generation college students, people from low-income families, and fulltime workers who attend class part time. Students enrolled at community colleges across the United States represent 46 percent of current U.S. undergraduates. There are 11.5 million community college students in total, and 6.5 million of them are studying for college credit. For many of these students, community colleges are a path to further education and improved economic status.

Published in the January/February 2010 edition of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, Natalia A. Lolesnikova's article "Community Colleges and Economic Mobility" explores the advantages and limitations of a community college education as regards labor market outcomes. Lolesnikova's data illustrate community colleges' substantial influence on labor market outcomes. According to the author, the annual earnings of students who attended community college but did not complete an associate degree increase by 5-8 percent for each year of community college completed. Students who attended community college but did not complete a degree earn 9-13 percent more than those who have only a high school diploma. …

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