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By CCW research  /  
2009 August 26 - 12:00 am

Summary of Key Provisions of Community College Initiative

Summary of Key Provisions of
Community College Initiative

President Obama’s $12 billion proposal to boost the number of college graduates by 5 million by the year 2020 and aid community colleges includes several components. They make federal aid available to college districts, but also create new accountability standards and call for systemic reform of the nation’s community colleges over the next decade. The initiative would be paid for by reforming the federal student loan program.

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Here is an outline of the bill, called the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act. The bill would:

  • Create a new community college challenge grant program aimed at transforming community colleges into productive education and job training centers. Colleges would be compelled to work with local employers, improve their student support services, and implement other innovative reforms that will lead to a college degree, certificate or credential to fulfill local workforce needs. The Secretary of Education will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of all programs and policies funded through these grants by using 2 percent of these funds to commission the Institute for Education Sciences to conduct a study to determine which reforms could be replicated at other colleges and states.

  • Create incentives for community colleges by requiring them to meet benchmarks in order to participate in the challenge grant program. Under the program, the Secretaries of Education and Labor will award four-year grants to community colleges on a competitive basis to support innovative pilot programs and policies. In order to continue to receive funding for year three of the grant period, community colleges must meet benchmarks they establish in consultation with the Secretary of Education’s approval. The minimum grant that can be awarded is $1 million. Funds can be used to carry at least two of the following activities: expanding academic and training programs that provide training for high-wage occupations in high-demand industries;improve student support services;create workforce programs that blend basic skills and occupational training and leading to an industry-recognized certificate; build and enhance education linkages, including dual enrollment programs and early college high schools, and improve remedial and adult education programs; and implementing reform programs to increase completion rates.

  • Establish the College Access and Completion Fund, which is intended to improve to improve student success, completion, and post-completion employment, particularly for students from groups that are underrepresented in postsecondary education. States could get assistance in developing longitudinal data systems, common metrics, and reporting systems to enhance the quality and availability of information about student success, completion and post-completion employment. The bill authorizes $600 million in each of the fiscal years 2010-2014.

  • Ensure that more students graduate with the expertise needed for high wage jobs and high-demand industries. Grants will be targeted to high-need students and programs that focus on preparing students for jobs in fields that need workers and will continue to grow. The secretaries would also be able to award six-year competitive grants to states to implement successful Challenge Grant Program reforms, but funding could be discontinued if the state does not make progress meeting benchmarks by year three of the grant period.

  • Expand access to education
    by supporting free on-line courses. The Education department would be authorized to make competitive grants to colleges, workforce programs and other entities to support development of the courses. The secretary of education would be allowed to allocate $50 million a year in each fiscal year between 2010 and 2019.

  • Provide $2.5 billion in to states in fiscal year 2011 for the construction of new community college facilities and modernizing, renovating, and repairing existing facilities. The facilities must be used primarily used for instruction, research, or student housing.

  • Establish the Learning and Earning Research Center. The Secretary of Education would be authorized to award up to $150 million to a nonprofit organization to operate the center. The center would develop metrics on the effectiveness of community colleges in meeting education and employment objectives, and develop and disseminate materials analyzing best practices and research on successful postsecondary education and training efforts.

  • Allow the secretary of education to award up $150 million to establish multi-state agreements to develop, implement, and expand longitudinal data systems that collect, maintain, disaggregate, and analyze student data from community colleges, including data on programs of study and education and employment outcomes for particular students over time. Systems would have the capability to link to other data systems, including elementary and secondary education and workforce systems. Funds received under this section must supplement, not supplant, other Federal and state resources that would otherwise be expended to carry out statewide longitudinal data systems.

  • Order the Institute of Education Sciences to conduct a rigorous evaluation by Jan. 30, 2014, that assesses the effectiveness of the grant programs carried out by each eligible entity in improving postsecondary education completion rates and employment-related outcomes, serving high-need populations, and building or enhancing partnerships with state or local workforce investment boards.

Source: The Workforce Alliance

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