More students than ever before attended Iowa’s community colleges this term. Kathi Slaughter, a spokeswoman in the state education department, saysIowa’s 15 community colleges reported 81,800 students in the fall 2004 semester, about a 4.5 percent increase in the number of students getting credit for degree programs. Slaughter says there are three main types of program students can select from at today’s community colleges. Students can choose a college-parallel program major, taking core courses that’ll transfer to a four-year college or university, choose a career-technical program, or combine the career and parallel options. That way they’ll graduate with their 2-year associate degree, prepared to transfer credits and go on to a four-year university. Slaughter says the cooperation’s good between the community colleges and Iowa’s four-year institutions, and that means progress toward the goal of keeping young people. Ninety-five percent of community-college students are from Iowa, and the vast majority stay here once they finish and go to work or graduate and go on to a four-year university. The schools suffered along with others in Iowa when the economy faltered, according to Slaughter. State appropriations for community colleges are down about $8 Million over the last four or five years. Community colleges got $148-Million in fiscal year 2001 and this year are getting just about $140-Million. Slaughter says with serious budget challenges, the fifteen community colleges are considering how to meet their education objectives with less money. They’ve had to raise tuition but did so by a smaller percentage than the three state universities did in recent years.
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