Community Colleges Critical to Winning the Future

Five time Jeopardy winner, rocket scientist, and Congressman, Rush Holt (D-NJ), teamed up with U.S. Department of Education Undersecretary Martha Kanter last Wednesday to highlight the important role community colleges play in meeting President Obama’s goal for the U.S. to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

Wednesday’s community forum hosted by Mercer County Community College (MCCC) in Trenton, NJ brought students, administrators, and other stakeholders together to discuss student success in community college programs.  Both Kanter and Holt emphasized the need to increase postsecondary access and accelerate college completion to build stronger bridges from high schools, adult education, community colleges, four-year universities, and the workforce.

In her opening remarks Undersecretary Kanter, who is a former community college president, underscored their importance.  “Our ability to win the future will depend on the nation’s community colleges, the institutions that incubate nearly half of our country’s undergraduates,” Kanter said.  “This is the new generation that will move our nation forward.”

Congressman Rush Holt and ED Undersecretary Martha Kanter

Congressman Holt told Mercer County students and faculty that “as a former educator, I see a vital need for federal investment in education. If America is going to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world, we need to have a smart, well-trained workforce.”

They heard from students like Pam Prather who described her struggles as a youth and how community college gave her another opportunity to reach her potential, while several other students expressed appreciation that the Obama administration had increased the maximum Pell Grant awards to $5,550.

Click here to read more posts on how ED and the Obama administration continue to support community colleges in their efforts to help today’s students graduate career-ready.

Will Ragland
Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs

1 Comment

  1. I am encouraged to hear that some students within the Community College system is being helped. I, on the other hand, have had several problems accessing these same services (Pell Grant). Although, I have a learning disability that makes it extremely difficult for me to organize, and follow through on tasks, I am forced to file an appeal to receive a grant.
    It appears to me that assistance is being dangled in front of people but the process to receive this aid is unobtainable.

    Additionally, I am in contact with a close associates that is homeless and trying to go to school, but does not qualify to receive a Pell Grant because she is 22years old, homeless, and have been on her own since 17years of age.
    It is a reality that many parents do not want to support a child after the age of 18. Yet, the community college insists that this 22year old, does not meet their standards to be declared independent.
    It seems contradictory that one state agency will give her food stamps because she is homeless. But another state entity, the community college, deems her ineligible for the Pell Grant so she may educate herself and hopefully become a productive, tax-paying citizen.

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