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Community colleges deserve boost in funding from state

Editorial, Mason City Globe Gazette
4/2/12

It’s simple math: Funding for the schools has dropped at the same time enrollment has increased dramatically. So that means the colleges have to hike tuition and fees to make ends meet, which leads to rising debt burden on students and families.

That, in most cases, might discourage people from attending, but community colleges do such a good job that students recognize they’re getting a bargain as they obtain the education needed to move on to four-year schools or move out into the job market.

We believe legislators would want to reward that kind of performance, and some do (last we heard it was Democrats in favor, Republicans not so much). But funding has showed a net decline over the past decade, according to a study by the Iowa Fiscal Partnership.

“Perhaps lawmakers have lost sight of the critical role that community colleges play in Iowa’s economy,’ said Andrew Cannon, research associate for the Iowa Policy Project. “The revenue picture has really become unbalanced … and now relies heavily on tuition and fees.”

Community colleges aren’t alone. Iowa’s three state universities have seen parents and students forced to pay more. We appreciate the dilemma of students at those institutions, too.

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