Forum: Cost of Higher Education Drives Away Connecticut Community College Students

By Bonina, Bryan | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), December 26, 2015 | Go to article overview

Forum: Cost of Higher Education Drives Away Connecticut Community College Students


Bonina, Bryan, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


Over the years, Presidents Obama and Bush, and Governor Malloy have credited community colleges as the place to go to get things done. It's no wonder. It's community colleges that have the turn-on- a-dime capability to implement new, market sensitive programs. It's community colleges that can offer teenagers and adults alike the opportunity to strengthen their educational background so they can pursue a college education. It's community colleges that offer an affordable quality education that can be a springboard to four-year schools and beyond.

Yet, at budget time, it's the community colleges that are at the end of the line and have to make do with leftover funds. This puts a college education out of reach of the people whose only hope for an education is community colleges like Naugatuck Valley, Housatonic and Norwalk.

Today, even the modest $4,042 annual tuition we offer prices some less fortunate students out of the education market. That, coupled with the cost of books that can reach $200-$300 for a single text, creates an insurmountable obstacle for some students.

The problem is magnified by recent changes to the state's financial aid program that favors full-time students over part- time. Often, part-time study is the only alternative for students who must work to support themselves or raise a family. Those students take one or two courses a semester, believing that they should do it slowly and do it right. The full-time student bias punishes them for this diligence.

However, there is more hidden inequity in our higher education system. The 2013 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) report on the state's colleges and universities underscores these disparities. It shows that, in terms of instructional and student-service dollars spent, the community colleges are at or near the bottom.

IPEDS shows that the state's 34 public and private colleges spent about $3.2 billion on instructional services for 151,848 full-time students and their equivalents. Some 36,647 students, or 24 percent, were students at the state's 12 community colleges.

However, the spending on those students was only $285 million, or 9 percent of the total. …

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