A new report shows Iowa community college students are paying a much larger share of the cost of their education than they were 10 years ago.
Andrew Cannon, who authored the report for the Iowa Fiscal Partnership, suggests state lawmakers have “lost sight of the critical role” community colleges play in Iowa’s economy. “At the same time that perhaps our legislators have lost sight of that, Iowa students have recognized the value of a community college education – whether in the arts and sciences or in technical or vocational training,” Cannon said. “Over the past decade, community college enrollment has increased by more than 60-percent.”
The report shows state funding to Iowa’s 15 community colleges – when adjusted for inflation – has decreased 21% from 2001 to 2012. “This, of course, means rising tuition for students and their families, larger debt burdens for students, greater financial hardship and potentially putting vital education out of reach for many Iowans,” Cannon said. He noted tuition at Iowa’s community colleges is now higher than average tuition in Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska, and exceeds the national average by $1,200. Cannon said federal funding to community colleges has also declined over the past decade.
Two weeks ago, Cannon issued another report showing state funding to Iowa’s three public universities has dropped 40% in the past 12 years, while tuition has increased 75% over that same time period. “What has really happened over the past decade is a shift of the burden of higher education…from being a shared investment to being one where we’re holding students entirely responsible for (the cost),” Cannon said. “Tuition and fees have become the primary source of revenue for community colleges over the past 10 years.”