‘Bang for the Buck’

Community colleges offer key services

Among college graduates throughout West Virginia this spring are thousands who were in and out of higher education in two years. They earned degrees and certificates at community and technical colleges, which seem to be growing in popularity. Why is that?

Simply because more potential college students are recognizing that community and technical colleges offer excellent “bang for the buck.” That ought to appeal to state legislators and other higher education policymakers who face tough choices on how much West Virginia can afford for public colleges and universities.

Lawmakers and governors have had to make some of those difficult decisions during the past few years, as state revenue collections lagged behind budgeted spending. In fact, legislators are gathered in Charleston right now, debating how to balance the fiscal 2018 budget.

As budget realism becomes more and more of a factor in how much individual colleges and universities get from the state, it is entirely possible some will face funding cuts. Efficiency in spending taxpayers’ money and providing good-value educations will be factors the policymakers consider.

Among the two best reasons for students to enroll in community and technical colleges are these:

• For those who want four-year or advanced degrees, community colleges offer an excellent way to reduce the bill. Many students can live at home, saving money on room and board. Tuitions are quite reasonable.

• Several community and technical colleges offer excellent career programs. In two years, a student can obtain a degree or certificate paving the way to a good, high-paying job.

This is not intended merely as a pat on the back to community and technical colleges. It is a reminder to policymakers that when the time comes to make the tough funding choices, community and technical colleges offer important services to Mountain State residents. Many of them, voting with their enrollment forms, have made it clear they favor state support of two-year colleges

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