Rural community colleges are key to achieving President Obama’s goal for America to have the highest proportion of students graduating from college in the world by 2020.
On Feb. 24, “Rural Community College Day,” officials from the U.S. Department of Education joined with the Rural Community College Alliance to discuss challenges and opportunities to increase college graduation and career training.
Administrators from community colleges and universities from across the country met with Under Secretary Martha Kanter, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges Frank Chong, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Career and Technical Education Glenn Cummings.
ED staff briefed participants on a range of topics, including:
- American Graduation Initiative
- Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education-FIPSE
- International Studies Team, International Education Programs Service-IEPS
- Institutional Development and Undergraduate Education Service-IDUES
- Office of Federal TRIO Programs
- Teacher and Student Development Programs Service, and
- Financial Aid
Participants talked about challenges and opportunities facing rural community colleges and said that Pell Grants are the most important human capital development tool for rural communities.
Under President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget, the maximum Pell Grant increases by $160 to $5,710 and would automatically rise by rate of inflation plus 1 percentage point annually over the next decade. It also includes the $10.6 billion American Graduation Initiative to improve and modernize community colleges, and a $3.5 billion College Access and Completion Fund.
The meeting came on the heels of last year’s Listening and Learning Tour, which took Secretary Duncan and ED officials to all 50 states, including rural community colleges and small rural public schools, to listen to students, families, educators, and rural community leaders.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach
Office of Communications and Outreach