Community College the Funding Landscape

Since the Recession, community colleges have gained greater attention and recognition as a gateway to a better life – as resources for preparing people for secure employment and a family-sustaining income.  The national commitment to increasing postsecondary educational attainment, combined with growing economic anxiety, has made community colleges the focus of many federal and state policy initiatives.

At the federal level, Obama administration promoted community colleges in various ways. For instance:

Funding, through:

  • 4-year, $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) initiative – focused on partnerships between CCs and employers to develop pathway to good jobs in-demand regionally (funding was part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act allocation). By 2014, investment in 700 community colleges, more than 1,900 new or modified training programs had been launched
  • Many other Department of Education, Department of Labor, and NSF grants (see below)

Initiatives to make college more accessible/affordable, principally:

  • America’s College Promise – a plan to make two years of community college free for students, announced by Obama administration in 2015. States, cities, colleges responded by creating their own College Promise programs.
  • Proposed America’s College Promise Act of 2015 – $80 billion over 10 years (pending, or dead)
  • $111 million in America’s Promise Grants (DOL) awarded in November 2016, to 23 regional workforce partnerships
  • Pell grants expanded to high school students taking dual enrollment courses for college credit, in 2016
  • In 2016, Obama Administration proposed tax incentives, the Community College Partnership Tax Credit, to encourage employers to play a more active role in funding and directing educational options at community and technical colleges ($500 million in tax credits per year 2017-2021)

The current panorama at the federal level is very uncertain:

More about the federal landscape and community colleges in January 2017 report by the American Associate of Community Colleges

Overall, budget cuts and shifting priorities may affect many federal discretionary programs that have been resources for community colleges, along with federal student loan programs.

California and other states, local governments, and philanthropy will likely be called upon to step in and continue the momentum in making community colleges more accessible to disadvantaged students and viable pathways to good careers.

At the state level, there has been increased focus in recent years on:

Linked Learning/college and career pathways (academic and technical education), and CCs’ role in them, such as:

  • CCC Linked Learning Initiative, CPT 1 and 2, linkages with high school career academies and pathway programs
  • CA spends $6.5 annually on more than two dozen workforce programs (62% from state funding, most of the rest federal)
  • Adult Ed Block Grant consortia (AB 86)

Student access/persistence:

  • Increased funding for students – e.g., College Promise programs launched locally (such as in Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Richmond, Peralta Promise), and now CCCCO is awarding CA College Promise Grants to CCs in 2017
  • Developmental/remedial education (e.g., Basic Skills Initiative, California Acceleration Project, Multiple Measures Assessment Project, Basic Skills & Student Outcomes Transformation grants)
  • Student Success and Support, Student Equity, and other apportionments

Current state funding panorama:

  • State revenues, which surged during several years of recovery, are now beginning to lag expectations. Despite this constraint, the budget provides roughly $400 million in new Proposition 98 General Fund spending for California community colleges. New spending will include:
  • $150 million for Guided Pathways Grant Program, upcoming in 2017
  • $20 million for an Innovation Awards program, upcoming in 2017

While state apportionments for community colleges have increased, there is a clear expectation from policy makers that these funds have been provided to ensure colleges are covered for new expenses related to pension costs increases

Summary of how the Governor’s 2017-18 Budget impacts California Community Colleges

California legislators have proposed a new “Debt Free College Program” for resident undergraduates attending public colleges in California. The Legislative Analyst’s Office directed by 2016-17 budget act to estimate annual cost: $3.3 billion annually ($2.2 billion for community college students, $800 million for CSU students, and $300 million for UC students).  AO Report. January 31, 2017.


Federal grants community colleges have been able to apply for in recent years (not a full list). Unclear which will continue.

U.S. Department of Education

  • Trio (Educational Opportunity Centers, Talent Search, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math-Science, Veterans Upward Bound, Gear Up, Student Support Services, Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement, Training Program for Federal TRIO programs staff)
  • Strengthening Institutions Program
  • Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions Program
  • Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) program
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Predominantly Black Institutions
  • American Indian Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities
  • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
  • Native Hawaiian Education Program
  • Native American Career and Technical Education Program
  • Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program
  • Investing in Innovations
  • First in the World
  • Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS)

National Science Foundation

  • Advanced Technological Education
  • S-STEM
  • Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (NSF INCLUDES):

U.S. Department of Labor:

  • TAAACT (2011-14)
  • Apprenticeship
  • H1-B Technical Skills
  • TechHire
  • America’s Promise grants
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