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Community Colleges to Rally Feb. 22 at State Capitol

Students, trustees, employees, and other supporters of Missouri’s community colleges rallied at the Missouri State Capitol on February 22.

“Rally Day” provided an opportunity for those attending to meet with legislators and state officials and to urge support of Missouri’s community colleges.

“Legislators understand the importance of community colleges to the vitality of the state,” said Zora Mulligan, executive director of the Missouri Community College Association (MCCA). “Rally Day allowed those legislators to hear directly how our institutions have literally changed individual lives and made a difference in the communities they represent.”

Representatives, students and supporters from Moberly Area Community College participated. “ Missouri’s Community colleges are such a great investment and are so efficient with state funds, that we wanted to help legislators understand that, if they didn’t already,” said MACC President, Dr. Evelyn E. Jorgenson. “We know that students certainly appreciate the low-cost tuition, small class sizes, and the opportunity to earn degrees and certificates that place them in high-wage jobs such as nursing or occupational therapy assistant. At Rally Day, community college students were able to speak from the heart and to share their individual stories with legislators.”

Approximately 15 people from MACC took part in Rally Day.

The rally began at 9:30 a.m. in the capitol rotunda, and included speakers from both the House and Senate and other state officials.

Legislative priorities for community colleges this year include maintaining funding for operations, continuing to fund the A+ scholarship program, identifying sources of funding for capital projects, enhancing workforce competitiveness through training programs, and maintaining a strong nursing workforce.

Over the past 10 years, enrollment in Missouri’s community colleges has increased by more than 50 per cent, growing twice as fast as public university enrollment between 2001 and 2010, according to MCCA.

Missouri has 12 community college districts serving more than 152,000 students taking classes for college credit and 126,000 non-credit students. Nationally, community colleges enroll nearly half of all undergraduates.

Students attending community colleges overwhelmingly tend to stay in the state to live and work. MCCA estimates that 93 per cent of community college students in the state will stay in Missouri.

A community college education pays strong dividends to the state and to individual students. Taxpayers see a rate of return of 6.7% on their investment in Missouri’s community colleges.

Students who obtain an associate degree earn an average of $11,000 more each year than those who hold only a high school diploma.

The added income generated by Missouri’s community colleges contributes approximately $330 million in income to the state’s economy each year, according to MCCA.

Taking a longer view, over the past 30 years it is estimated that the contributions of a community college educated workforce have translated into $4.7 billion in added state income, due primarily to higher earnings and increased business output.

In addition to programs of study intended to allow a student to transfer to a four-year institution or go directly into a career or technical field, community colleges provide a wealth of training for the state’s businesses and industries.

 

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