To highlight the vital role that community colleges play in preparing adults for success in the workplace, the U.S. Department of Education is posting video profiles on its Web site of three “non-traditional” students attending these institutions. Titled the “Path to Opportunity,” these videos profile three adult students, Claudia Rodriguez, Tia Marie Gwynn and Eric Patrick, each facing different challenges such as balancing work schedules and family responsibilities, or transitioning into a new field of work. The videos narrate how community colleges are helping them attain their educational dreams and showcase the various types of support — financial and otherwise — available to help adult students succeed. President Obama has set a goal for America to once again lead the world in its college completion rate by the end of the decade. To reach that goal, 8 million more Americans will need to earn two- or four-year degrees.
Featured on the videos are:
Claudia Rodriguez, an Iraq war veteran who attends Texas Southmost College in Brownsville, is balancing her job with the National Guard and her role as wife and mother of two children. She is completing an associate’s degree and planning a career in counseling.
Tia Marie Gwynn, a single mother of two who overcame a number of obstacles on her way to becoming a student at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, is currently enrolled in a certificate program in business office management. She plans to complete her associate’s degree and continue on to receive a bachelor’s and possibly a master’s degree.
Eric Patrick, a 40-year-old career changer who is finishing an associate’s degree at Michigan’s Macomb Community College, left a job in the aerospace industry to study engineering as a full-time student. He will finish his associate’s degree soon and has already earned a scholarship to a four-year institution where he will continue his studies.
Community colleges play a vital role in achieving President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. This goal includes graduates of both two-year and four-year colleges and universities. Today, approximately 40 percent of U.S. adults are college graduates. In order to give our nation the best educated and most competitive workforce, America must graduate at least 60 percent.
With the passage of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, more Americans than ever before will have the opportunity to attend college. The Act saves more than $60 billion over the next decade by ending bank subsidies for student loans for higher education and invests those savings in students and reducing the deficit. Additionally, the Act:
- Provides more than $40 billion in the Pell Grant program to ensure that eligible students receive an award. The maximum grant next year will be $5,500, which will increase to almost $6,000 by 2017.
- Makes repaying student loans more affordable by expanding the income-based student loan repayment program. Borrowers who assume loans after July 1, 2014, will be able to cap their student loan repayments at 10 percent of their discretionary income. If they make their payments, they will have the balance of their loans forgiven after 20 years. Students who choose a career in public service, such as teaching or nursing, will have their remaining debt forgiven after 10 years.
- Provides $2.55 billion in mandatory funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other minority-serving institutions.
- Includes $2 billion over four years for community colleges to help unemployed Americans.
To watch the “Path to Opportunity” videos, go to: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2010/06/path-to-opportunity-%e2%80%93-community-colleges-serving-adult-students/. For more information on financial aid for college, visit: www.studentaid.ed.gov.