In addition to all around increased enrollment in higher education, community colleges are currently enjoying an especially significant boost.  Generally, rates are increasing at a somewhat consistent rate that hovers between 5 and 10 percent every year. Despite consistently increasing trends, the types of students attending community colleges are constantly changing.

  • Community College Enrollment Boom – A number of factors have contributed to the extreme increase in community college enrollment. The facts about the boom as well as responses from certain professional organizations are explained.
  • The American Association of Community Colleges – Enrollment data for community colleges in every state are provided. Statistics on part-time and full-time enrollment are included in addition to data related to ethnicity and gender.
  • The National Center for Education Statistics provides data on Enrollment, Staff and Degrees Conferred across postsecondary institutions. In 1999 the number of students enrolled in two-year institutions was over 5.5 million.
  • The National Student Clearinghouse gathers enrollment and degree data in order to verify student involvement. The clearinghouse often work in conjunction with state agencies.
  • While community college has long been highly accessible, some colleges are initiating programs that limit enrollment. Buck the Trend of Increased Selectivity examines the disturbing trend that threatens education throughout the country.
  • Enrollment Rates of 18-24 Year Olds in Degree Granting Institutions is an extensive data set that displays enrollment rates in higher education from 1967 to 2009. Though members of this age group favor four-year institutions, two-year institutions have also seen marked increases in enrollment over the years.
  • College Enrollment Hits All-Time High, Fueled by Community College Surge – The Pew Research Center examines the recent height of community college enrollment as it pertains to recession. Rates between four-year institutions and two-year institutions are juxtaposed and considered in an economic context.
  • Trends in Higher Education Series: Community College – College Board offers this easily readable fact sheet that shows tuition fees, necessary expenses and federal aid for community college students from 2009-2010. Region specific trends and overall rates of change are included.


The state of community college education is currently suffering from significant challenges to graduation. In some states, such as Arizona, the average three-year degree completion rate is 18 percent. At the same time, there are a number of highly productive community colleges that are responsible for preparing a large number of students for their future careers.

  • Consequences of Neglect: Performance Trends in California Higher Education – The nation’s leader in community college enrollment, the pressure on California to perform well is high. This report shows that despite high levels of enrollment, performance is mediocre.
  • Institutional Variation in Credential Completion – Compares the performance of young, career-technical students across technical colleges as well as traditional community colleges. The study finds that community colleges and technical colleges serve significantly different populations. It also finds that technical schools see greater certificate completion rates compared to community colleges.
  • Dimensions of Student Engagement – The Community College Survey of Student Engagement contains data from 400,000 students from 48 states and 3 Canadian provinces. Emphasizing connections and the significance of meaningful relationships, the study tracks perspectives of student involvement in community colleges.
  • The Part-Time Impact – Inside Higher Ed assesses the ways in which part-time students and part-time faculty in community colleges interact. Social networking may be one of the tools needed for improving  part-time student success and interaction.
  • Performance Incentives to Improve College Completion – The Community College Research Center and the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy provide this report that looks at the effectiveness of the Washington State Student Achievement Initiative. It examines policy and community college performance outcomes, translating the experience of the initiative in Washington to a national context.
  • The Role of Community Colleges in the Education of Recent Science and Engineering Graduates – Community colleges play a significant role in the education of those who go on to receive science and engineering degrees. Here, that role is further explored, while differences among subgroups of the US population are taken into account.


Deemed an essential component of America’s academic success as a nation, community colleges play an important role. In this section, you will be provided with reports that project the future of the state of education. Challenges that must be addressed in order to ensure a positive outlook for American higher education are also considered.

  • The Data Quality Campaign is devoted to ensuring accurate and informative data pertaining to education. They work to encourage policymakers to implement effective data systems.
  • Keeping America’s Promise – Significant trends affecting community college education are considered in this article. Among them is the escalating demand for education, a continuously changing student body and a substantially different college experience.
  • A 21st Century Imperative champions the need for improved accessibility and diversity in higher education. Advancing core education goals through effective policies and efficient use of resources, community colleges much create access and opportunity for all students.


Affordability is a compelling reason to attend community college rather than the more expensive alternatives. In some cases, it simply isn’t feasible to spend exorbitant amounts on an education; community college is a financially attractive option. Learn more about the statistics surrounding funding and the availability of financial aid.

  • Financial Aid Across Higher Education – Graphs showing the dollar amount and percentage of those who receive financial aid in two-year and four-year institutions. Quickly understand the prevalence and scale of Stafford loans, Federal Pell Grants and other financial aid.
  • The National Center for Education Statistics hosts a table of tuition and fees in two-year and four-year institutions. Community colleges show consistently lower tuition costs compared to four-year institutions.
  • What is Known About the Impact of Financial Aid surveys the ways in which financial aid influences students’ postsecondary decisions. It addresses major issues surrounding college accessibility and success.
  • Simplifying Student Aid – The Executive Office of the President of the United States offers this report that argues for an easier to use and more accurate FAFSA. Currently, FAFSA is needlessly complicated and difficult to maneuver; a simplified process would have many beneficial effects.
  • Community College Student Survey – The Pearson Foundation offers this summary of their research that shows the difficulties that current community college students are having. Among the most significant findings are that 20 percent of students found it difficult to gain access to necessary college courses and that 74 percent of those who dropped out did not first consult an instructor or advisor.