The California Community Colleges make up the largest system of higher education in the nation, consisting of 113 colleges and 72 districts and serving over 2 million students each year. Community Colleges offer associate's degrees and industry-specific certificates, pathways to transfer to universities, and newly established four year Community College baccalaureate degrees. Community Colleges also provide local opportunities for community members to build technical skills in order to improve their earnings and foster lifelong learning.
By making education more affordable and accessible, California Community Colleges also help to improve the quality of life for those who often face barriers to higher education— including first-generation college students, students in low-income families, rural residents, inner city residents, foster youth, military veterans, and immigrants. Over 40 percent of Community College students are the first generation in their families to attend college. Over half of Community College students are economically disadvantaged.
Access to a Community College has a tremendous impact on lives and the economy. Upon graduation, students earn, on average, over 50 percent more than they would have with only a high school diploma, earning $500,000 more in a lifetime. For every public dollar spent in Community Colleges, nearly seven dollars is returned in higher tax receipts and reductions in public assistance. The California Community Colleges are truly the gateway to opportunity for all Californians and the backbone of California’s economy.
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