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Access threatened: a comparison of the 2003 and 2009 recessions

State-level community college coordination and governance structures are highly varied across the 50 states. Some states have two separate governing boards, one for community colleges and another for the other public higher education institutions; others have one higher education governing and/or coordinating board for all public higher education institutions. A few states have one statewide board that coordinates elementary and secondary education and also coordinates community colleges. (Tollefson, Garrett, Ingram, & Associates, 1999). Despite these significant differences in structure and governance, members of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges (NCSDCC) are well-positioned to comment on issues of funding and access in their own sectors specifically, and other sectors of education including elementary and secondary, public regional universities, publicly controlled Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and public flagship universities as well. No sector of the American postsecondary system serves more students who are the first generation in their families to be enrolled in higher education, more racial and ethnic minorities, and more low income families than do the nation’s community colleges (American Association of Community Colleges website, 2010). Funding issues at the state level for community colleges are never considered in a vacuum. Alone among education sectors, community college receive appropriations from both state and local appropriations (typically from ad valorem taxes on real property), They often apply for and obtain significant federal workforce training funding through programs financed by federal and state matching funds, and administered through non-education–related state cabinet agencies. According to Grapevine, in 25 states local appropriations exceed 10 percent of total revenues from all sources for public community colleges, and in 25 states they are lower than 10 percent (often approaching zero). Interestingly, seven of the nine largest states have local funding, and just two—Florida and Georgia--do not (Palmer, 2008).

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