Higher Education Advocates Urge Congress to Equitably Fund Community Colleges in Federal Stimulus Legislation

Public higher education faces major destabilization, as it did after the Great Recession. The Center for American Progress and other higher education advocates have signed on to a letter to Congress noting that two-year public colleges are facing a funding crisis. These institutions serve a vast swath of students of color, low-income students, and those attending college part time.

The letter calls on Congress to use unduplicated headcount as its measure of higher education enrollment instead of a measure that counts students by full-time equivalents (FTE). It reads:

Using headcount instead of FTE would be a better approach, as the former approach treats all Pell [Grant] students equally in a distribution of relief money. This approach recognizes that financial struggles do not cleanly prorate based upon the number of college courses someone takes.

The letter goes on to show that the FTE approach hurts two-year public or minority-serving institutions by severely undercounting Pell recipients; has negative racial implications; and concludes that insufficient funding will jeopardize college completion among the nation’s historically disadvantaged populations.