Washington, D.C. — Michigan’s community college district boundaries may be the source of troubling inequities in funding and student access, according to a new Center for American Progress issue brief released today. Using Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan, as a case study, the brief identified that most of the college’s students come from outside the district—from predominantly Black Detroit. As a result, Black students were overrepresented in Henry Ford College’s student population by 18 percentage points compared with the district’s demographic makeup. These students are then charged $68 more per credit hour—or $2,000 per year—than if they had attended their home district’s college. This creates a serious equity problem for students in Michigan.
Making matters worse, Henry Ford College brings in the third-lowest amount of revenue per student in the state, driven largely by its inability to raise sufficient local revenue. This means the college has fewer resources to spend on instruction and services for its larger population of Black students.
This brief illuminates the racial equity implications of community college district boundaries and how they can reinforce the effects of segregation, and it offers the following policy recommendations to address college affordability and resource inequity:
- Community college district boundaries should be reevaluated to account for geography, variable pricing, and equity.
- Michigan should extend discounted tuition rates to communities outside community college districts or simply eliminate the out-of-district penalty in community college tuition altogether.
- State appropriations should increase for community college districts with lower property tax values to equalize differences among districts.
Please click here to read the brief: “District Boundaries Affect Racial Representation at Michigan Community Colleges” by Bradley D. Custer
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Morgan Finkelstein at gro.ssergorpnacirema@nietsleknifm.