A comprehensive analysis of community college funding mixes by state, size, and setting: 2003-2004 to 2013-2014
The ever-changing landscape of community college finance maintains the need for consistent and continuous research to develop best practices. Policy analysis can inform best practices. The need to constantly improve our knowledge base to inform policy and ensure efficient use of tax payer dollars always exists. Recent community college finance literature analyzes public two-year colleges in their entirety, but national averages mask stark differences in mission, function, and funding – especially local funding – that exist across the 50 states, leaving a large gap in this research. These differences – well known to community college policymakers and community college scholars, have been magnified due to steep declines in state funding over the recent years. Yet they are not well known by sociologists, economists and political scientists focusing on STEM, healthcare, workforce, or college completion issues. The purpose of this study is to build a reliable data base of revenue across all 50 state systems of community colleges that accurately illustrates state funding flows from 2003-04 to 2013-14. In addition to the need for a consistent categorical analysis of state funding mixtures for community colleges, the ability to analyze geographical differences in relation to the categorical funding mixes at these critically important institutions creates an opportunity for researchers and policy analysts alike to compare similar colleges on a case-by-case basis. Over the course of three articles, public community college revenue streams and enrollment are analyzed in a comprehensive manner that accounts for state funding differences, institutional size, and institutional setting. The first article uncovers the differences and similarities in the varying funding streams that exist for community colleges over time. The second article offers a student perspective of funding for unmet financial need to access community college education, taking into account the legislative funding differences across the 50 states and across the different institutions by size and geographic setting. Article three considers tax capacity and effort exerted by each state in 2013-14. Through all of these articles, this study takes a close look into the differences and inequalities experienced across the different states and is intended for reference by policy makers looking to investigate best practices.