April is Community College Awareness Month, which provides a great opportunity to reflect on the value institutions like Atlantic Cape bring to their communities and the nation.
Recently, the spotlight has been placed on our nation’s 1,123 colleges, as President Obama’s proposal to eliminate tuition for students in certain community college programs was announced earlier this year. Like the state and local initiatives it builds upon, the president’s proposal dramatically underscores the importance of obtaining a post-secondary education in today’s economy. It is also an investment in the nation’s economy. The proposal would help the full range of students at community colleges, including adult students, while seeking to ensure that states maintain or increase their investments in higher education.
A report by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) found two-year colleges contributed $809 billion in added income to the U.S. economy in 2012, which is equal to 5.4 percent of the gross domestic product.
“Community colleges offer pathways to economic success – and hope for the future – to lower-income students, first generation college-goers, minority students, veterans, single parents, and anyone looking to advance their skills,” says AACC President Walter Bumphus. “Community colleges continue to be gateway to a better life for many and provide access to higher education for all Americans regardless of their background or socio-economic status.”
As community college graduates move into higher-paying jobs they will contribute $285.7 billion in increased tax revenue and will save taxpayers $19.2 billion in decreased social and safety net services while experiencing better health and lower crime rates.