Stimulus Bill to Increase
Students and Funding at Community Colleges
This is one of the most unique times in the history of community colleges. Enrollment is growing,
and budgets continue to be cut. This combined with the increasing gap between what students
pay in tuition and the substantially larger amount their education costs means many community
colleges are wondering how they can continue to keep their doors open.
Luckily, the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will offer much needed
aid to community colleges across the country. The stimulus bill will help not only community
colleges through funding for job training and technical programs, but also students directly through
increased Pell Grants and tuition tax credits.
Although funds in the stimulus bill are allocated exclusively to fund job training and technical
programs at community colleges, there is no doubt that community colleges will see the benefits
across the board. This will allow institutions expensive trade programs to affectively cost less and
allow some budget dollars to be freed up for more prudent spending. Also due to the increased
funding, trade school opportunities will be a reality for students who previously could not afford the
classes, increasing tuition dollars collected.
Even though the financial woes many community colleges are facing might be subsided through
the stimulus plan, the amount of staff time available per student will continue to decrease as more
and more students enroll. This could be detrimental to student retention as the influx of students is
likely to show some of the risk factors for attrition.
Also the stimulus bill has approved additional grant and loan funding for students. This is very
exciting for community colleges, potential students, and current students; however, if these
new funding options are not communicated to students effectively and consistently, the inherent
retention benefits might not be utilized.
Given the current situation, student retention is an area that deserves the time and attention of
community colleges. With an even larger increase of students yet to come, it’s important that
community colleges have strategies to intervene with at-risk students early before it’s too late.