Effects of State Higher Education Cuts on Communities of Color: Investment in Two-year Schools is an Investment in the Future

As diversity among U.S. students increases, investment in public colleges—particularly in two-year institutions that disproportionately serve students of color—is an investment in the future.
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  1 Center for American Progress | Effects of State Higher Education Cuts on Communities of Color Effects of State Higher Education Cuts on Communities of Color Investment in Two-year Schools is an Investment in the Future By Farah Z. Ahmad October 27, 2014 Te economic downurn and financial crisis ha occurred rom December 2007 o June 2009, known as he Grea Recession, disruped boh domesic and world markes. In he Unied Saes, millions o Americans los heir jobs, and amilies saw heir homes ore-closed. And in he years since his recession󲀔and paricularly when he naion’s economy  began o recover󲀔he gains made have no been evenly disribued among hose who suffered economic losses. In ac, economic opporuniies eroded aser or communiies o color during he recession compared o non-Hispanic whies. Moreover, he opporuni-ies ha have reurned during he recovery are arriving slower or communiies o color. 1   Wih unemploymen raes skyrockeing during he Grea Recession, many unemployed  Americans wen back o school as nonradiional adul sudens in order o reool heir skills and rebuild heir careers. Tese nonradiional sudens primarily atended wo-year, public possecondary insiuions, such as local communiy colleges. Simulaneously, among radiional sudens, communiy colleges saw a greaer increase han our-year insiuions or a variey o reasons, including he lower cos o wo-year insiuions, poenial enrollmen caps a our-year insiuions, and he lowered opporuniy coss o possecondary educaion compared o unemploymen. 2  Since he Grea Recession, communiy colleges have seen a 20 percen increase in enrollmen, while our-year public universiies have seen an increase o only 10.6 percen. 3  Te recession no only affeced individuals’ economic oulook, bu also heir educaional oulook. During he recession, sae budges shrunk and difficul decisions had o be made on where o cu spending; one resul was a reducion o sae suppor or possecondary educaional insiuions, o which wo-year insiuions bore much o he brun. Tus,  while enrollmen a wo-year insiuions increased during he recession, he increase in enrollmen was no me wih an increase in unding. When accouning or enrollmen rends, communiy colleges were more likely o experience a decline in unding per suden han our-year insiuions. Based on spending per ull-ime equivalen, or FE, enrollmen 45 saes have decreased unding a wo-year insiuions. And while our-year insiuions also saw a all in unding, 31 saes had a decline in unding or communiy colleges a a greaer rae han public universiies. 4    2 Center for American Progress | Effects of State Higher Education Cuts on Communities of Color In addiion o more severe unding cus han hose a our-year insiuions, he addiional enrollmen a communiy colleges compared o our-year insiuions resuled in he urher decline o unding per suden. Te counercyclical rend o increased enrollmen during an economic downurn is no unexpeced. Ye, saes ofen disinves in insiuions  when sudens need hem he mos. Aside rom unemployed workers reurning o school during imes o high unemploymen, sudens atending wo-year insiuions are much more likely o be firs-generaion sudens, sudens o color, and sudens rom low-income amilies. Naionwide, people o color made up 38 percen o undergraduae all enrollmen in 2009, bu communiy colleges have generally enrolled hal o he suden-o-color undergraduae populaion. 5  Considering ha communiies o color only make up around 37 percen o he populaion as o 2013, 6  i is clear ha communiy colleges disproporionaely serve communiies o color.Communiies o color are growing. Te Census Bureau projecs hey will make up he majoriy o he naion’s populaion someime around 2043 7  and hus are poised o  become a bigger share o our naion’s higher-educaion sysem. In ac, his year, sudens o color are projeced o be he majoriy o public K-12 sudens or he firs ime in hisory. 8  And in he nex eigh years, enrollmen o sudens o color in possecondary insiuions is projeced o grow o 41 percen o he oal enrollmen populaion. 9  Given he changing ace o our naion, i is more imporan han ever or saes o inves in he educaional uure o communiies o color. Some saes already have gone hrough or are currenly going hrough hese demographic shifs. For example, 60 percen o Caliornia residens are people o color. 10  In Souh Carolina, Virginia, and Arizona, he residen populaion o people o color is 36 percen, 36 percen, and 43 percen, respecively. Te success o communiy colleges and oher minoriy-serving insiuions in hese saes wih growing communiies o color is criical. 11  Ye, hese hree saes are among hose who have cu spending per suden he mos since he Grea Recession. Spending dropped by 41 percen in Souh Carolina during his period, by 27 percen in  Virginia, and by 43 percen in Arizona. 12  As menioned, he spending reducions have no been uniorm across insiuions. In Virginia, or example, wo-year insiuions saw heir per-suden unding reduced by 33.7 percen, while our-year insiuions saw a reducion o 22 percen. 13  (see able 1) Ineresingly, Te Universiy o Virginia, he sae’s flagship insiuion, only saw a 17 percen reducion, 14  affecing a suden body ha is 24 percen sudens o color: 10 percen Asian American, 6 percen Arican American, 5 percen Hispanic, and 3 percen muliracial. 15  Whereas Norhern Virginia Communiy College, wih 53 percen o is suden body sudens o color󲀔14 percen Asian American, 1 percen Naive Hawaiian and oher Pacific Islander, 17 percen Arican American, 18 percen Hispanic, and 3 percen muliracial 16 󲀔saw a reducion in unding o close o 44 percen. 17  wo o  Virginia’s hisorically black public colleges and universiies󲀔Virginia Sae Universiy and Norolk Sae Universiy󲀔saw cus ha were significanly smaller han hose a Te Universiy o Virginia, indicaing ha some minoriy-serving insiuions were spared deep cus while ohers were no. 18    3 Center for American Progress | Effects of State Higher Education Cuts on Communities of Color Souh Carolina saw a 39.5 percen reducion in spending on wo-year insiuions󲀔similar o a 39.6 percen reducion among our-year insiuions󲀔bu cus were no uniorm a all insiuions. 19  Is flagship insiuion, Universiy o Souh Carolina, whose suden body is 21 percen sudens o color, saw a unding cu o 28 percen. In com-parison, Souh Carolina Sae Universiy, a our-year insiuion whose suden body is almos enirely sudens o color󲀔94 percen Arican American, 1 percen Hispanic 20 󲀔 was cu by 43.5 percen. 21  Meanwhile, Denmark echnical College, a wo-year insiuion  wih a 96 percen Arican American suden body, 22  saw a unding reducion o 52 percen. TABLE 1 Decline in support for public colleges in states that serve communities of color Change in direct support per student between FY 2008–FY 2012, by institution type StateTwo-year collegesFour-year collegesAll colleges Arizona-54.5%-42.2%-42.7%South Carolina-39.5%-39.6%-41.2%Virginia-33.7%-22.0%-27.0% Source: CAP analysis of U.S. Department of Education, “Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System,” available at http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/data-center, (last accessed August 2014). Even in sable economic imes, communiies o color are relying more and more on communiy colleges as an access poin o low-cos, possecondary educaion. Ye, during hard economic imes󲀔when people need alernaives o employmen he mos󲀔unding or wo-year insiuions ha primarily serve his communiy has shrunk severely as sae budges ighen. Tis rend suggess a need or a new approach o invesing in accessible possecondary educaion, as well as a new approach o supporing amilies during economic downurns. In order o make possecondary educaion affordable and atainable during boh srong and weak economic imes, he Cener or American Progress recommends he creaion o a Public College Qualiy Compac ha would combine gran unding rom he ederal governmen wih sae suppor o mainain he levels o invesmen in public universiies and communiy colleges. Tis compac would be a compeiive maching gran program esablished by he ederal governmen wih he purpose o encouraging sae reinvesmen in higher educaion. o receive a gran, saes would need o mach he ederal grans and would be required o do he ollowing: ã Creae reliable unding by building new unding sreams, ensuring ha sudens and prospecive sudens can prepare or and enroll in possecondary educaion wih cerainy ã Make college affordable by guaraneeing ha low-income sudens will receive gran aid rom he compac o cover heir enrollmen a public insiuions  4 Center for American Progress | Effects of State Higher Education Cuts on Communities of Color ã Improve perormance by seting oucome goals or insiuions, such as increased graduaion raesã Remove barriers and sae and insiuional policies ha sand in he way o college compleionTis compac would improve value by implemening policies ha mainain or increase he qualiy o programs while keeping coss down. Qualiy, affordable possecondary educaion is no only necessary or low-income sudens, reurning sudens, and sudens o color; i is an economic imperaive or everyone. By 2020, wo-hirds o job openings will require some possecondary educaion, and he Unied Saes is a risk o no having enough workers wih he necessary levels o educaion. 23  As he Unied Saes and is workorce become increasingly diverse, making qualiy, affordable possec-ondary educaion available o all boh increases he accessibiliy o educaion or sudens o color and suppors he U.S. economy. Read more abou he deails in our repor, “A Grea Recession, a Grea Rerea.” Farah Z. Ahmad is a Policy Analys for Progress 2050 a American Progress. Te auhor would like o hank David Bergeron, Elizabeh Baylor, and Anoinete Flores for reviewing and providing valuable inpu and conen for his issue brief.
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