Texas community colleges: Why they matter

This is a preview of our Texas 2036 newsletter about Texas community colleges, from the Ogallala Aquifer to the agriculture industry. To receive this weekly highlight of our work, sign up here.

Community college students sitting in a circle discussing and smiling while in the library.

The Importance of Community Colleges in Texas 🎒

Come One, Come All: Community colleges play a critical role in our state’s economy by developing our workforce and preparing students for further academic study. 

  • There are 50 community college districts serving Texas.

The Way Forward: Community colleges are uniquely positioned to meet the state’s growing demands for skilled labor through quick and affordable pathways to earn credentials and ultimately self-sustaining wages. 

  • By 2030, 62% of all Texas jobs will require some sort of postsecondary credential.
  • Currently, only 23% of Texas students earn a postsecondary degree within six years of graduation.

Money Talks:Over the past 40 years, the state’s share of funding for community colleges has declined from 68% to 26%,with the balance paid for by higher tuition and property taxes. 

  • State leaders can improve student outcomes and ease financial burdens on taxpayers by investing in community colleges.

The Price Is Right: Still, community colleges are much more affordable than other higher education options. 

  • In the 2017-18 school year, Texas’ two-year institutions of higher education had the nation’s fourth-lowest tuition and fees, according to the Texas Comptroller.

Change Is Coming: The Texas Commission on Community College Finance recently offered recommendations to strengthen our higher education system. 

Next Up: The Commission will vote to approve the recommendations in October followed by final action during the 88th Texas Legislative Session.

Graphic of Community College District Service Areas map from https://tacc.org/tacc/college-district-maps.
Source: Texas Association of Community Colleges district maps

Extra Credit Reading: Learn more about the Texas Commission on Community College Finance recommendations in these articles featuring Texas 2036 Policy Advisor Renzo Soto.

📕 Did you attend a community college? 🧑‍🏭

Do you think community colleges can help Texas meet its workforce needs?

Share your thoughts in our short survey.

On the Scene 📸 : #TribFest22
Four higher ed experts stand shoulder to shoulder in front of a larger screen.
Margaret Spellings, Texas 2036; Jacob Fraire, University of Texas at El Paso; Ruth López Turley, Rice University; and Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College, at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 24 in Austin. Photo courtesy of Texas Association of Community Colleges.

On Sept. 24, Texas 2036 President and CEO Margaret Spellings joined a panel at The Texas Tribune Festival to discuss why the state has so few college graduates.

The “Incomplete” panel, presented by Arnold Ventures, was one of more than 120 sessions and events at the annual festival highlighting issues that matter most to Texans. Texas 2036 is also a proud sponsor of the TribFest.