How Have Community College Funding Cuts Affected Latinos?
The above pie chart serves as a colorful depiction of the types of postsecondary schools serving Latino student populations of 25 percent or more. As you can see, there’s a lot of red, indicating most Hispanic-serving institutions are two-year colleges.
These community colleges have seen decreases in funding since the Great Recession started, despite a 20 percent increase in enrollment during that same period, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress. Students attending these institutions are much more likely to be first-generation students, students of color and students from low-income families.
Compare this description with the Latino college student profile, given by Deborah Santiago of Excelencia in Education at EWA’s Spanish-Language Media Convening in September: low-income, first in the family to go to college, works more than 30 hours a week, and enrolls part-time at a community college or Hispanic-serving institution.
“Even in stable economic times, communities of color are relying more and more on community colleges as an access point to low-cost, postsecondary education,” the report states.
When funding for these colleges decreased, tuition went up. Consider a study by The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, which found “tuition at two-year and four-year institutions has outpaced median family income in the majority of states—and in all states where community colleges are most critical to access to college opportunity and to the baccalaureate degree.”
The study also claims, “The most underserved populations are among the least able to afford steeply rising tuition, least likely to enroll in college, and least likely to complete degree and certificate programs if they do enroll.”
But with a college education being one of the surest ways into the middle class, according to the White House, what does the future look like for Hispanic students who match the Latino student profile? What can be done to maintain a balance in two-year college funding?
The Center for American Progress suggests a Public College Quality Compact to combine grant funding from the federal government with state support to maintain the levels of investment in public universities and community colleges. Among other recommendations, the report proposes states — in order to receive a grant — be required to make college affordable by guaranteeing that low-income students will receive grant aid from the compact to cover their enrollment at public institutions.