Dems: Community colleges are key to expanding Iowa’s middle class

April 10, 2016

Iowa’s community colleges play a big role in expanding our middle class by helping more Iowans gain the knowledge and skills they need to fill jobs, further their education and enhance their quality of life.


Mason City schools established Iowa’s first two-year educational institution in 1918. By 1930, at least 32 Iowa communities had organized junior colleges as part of their public school systems.


In 1965, the Legislature merged many of these junior colleges—now known as community colleges—and established financial support through student tuition, as well as federal, state and local funds. At the time, these colleges had 9,110 students. Fifty years later, enrollment is 10 times that. In 2015, Iowa’s community colleges educated and trained more than 93,000 Iowans.


Today, community college students include:

  • 64,235 Iowans taking courses to get an associate’s degree or to transfer to a four-year college or university.
  • 27,742 Iowans enrolled in career and technical education (CTE) programs that prepare them for skilled jobs.
  • 33,145 high school students earning their first college credits. High schoolers now make up more than a third of community college students, up 5.4 percent from last year.
  • 232,480 Iowans participating in non-credit programs and courses that teach basic personal and academic skills, prepare people to enter the workforce, provide technical training for specific job opportunities and allow citizens to pursue special interests.

Because they do so much for Iowans, businesses, communities and our economy, community colleges deserve our support. For more on all the good things community colleges do in Iowa, see the 2015 Community College Annual Report on the Iowa Department of Education website.

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