RELEASE: New CAP Report Shows How Local Support Can Help Close the Funding Gap for Community Colleges

Washington, D.C. — In nearly half of all U.S. states, the massive funding gap between community colleges and public four-year colleges can be closed using local tax appropriations, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress released today. The report proposes adjusting local tax appropriations, such as property taxes, to help close the $78 billion national revenue gap between four-year and two-year public colleges.

Local funding for community colleges is the norm in 24 states, but in other states it is nonexistent. The report shows how in 12 states—New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, and Colorado—the funding gap can be closed with an increase of 5 percent or less in local taxes on property, individual income, and corporate income. In an additional 12 states, the gap can be closed with an increase of less than 10 percent. Investing in community colleges will, in turn, benefit local communities: These institutions will produce better-prepared graduates, who will contribute all the more to their local economies and civic life, help raise healthier and more educated children, and build a richer future for their region.

“Local cities, towns, counties, and regions have a huge stake in the strength of community colleges and should have the chance to help make them better. Investing in community colleges would be one of the most powerful ways to help the United States emerge stronger in the years after the pandemic,” said Marcella Bombardieri, associate director of Postsecondary Education at CAP and author of the report.

The report cautions that states should ensure either that funds collected locally are distributed equitably across the state or that state funds fill in the gaps for less wealthy communities. It is also crucial that any additional local taxes, such as property taxes, are designed in a progressive fashion, assessed and enforced equitably, and do not harm low-income households. Finally, the author emphasizes that expanding local funding for community colleges does not absolve states and the federal government of their responsibility to better support these important institutions.

Click here to read “Tapping Local Support To Strengthen Community Colleges” by Marcella Bombardieri.

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