Transformative changes at community colleges

This is a preview of our Texas 2036 newsletter about finance reform for Texas’ community colleges. To receive this weekly highlight of our work, sign up here.

Community College Finance Reform 💵

Across the State: Texas has 50 independent community college districts.

  • They deliver open enrollment education and workforce training to a yearly average of about 700,000 students of all ages and backgrounds in recent years, including those in high school or in a career transition.

Why This Matters: Community colleges fulfill a number of critical roles in our statewide education system and local communities.

  • They provide technical and vocational programs, workforce development and certifications, continuing adult education and training, and adult literacy programs, all alongside traditional academic courses.

Cause for Concern: By 2036, 70% of Texas jobs will require education or training after high school, yet fewer than 30% of Texans earn a postsecondary credential within six years of graduating from high school.

  • Texas ranks last among its 12 peer states in terms of degree attainment for adults aged 25–64.

The Need for Access: Given workforce demands, more Texans will need to earn a credential beyond a high school diploma to meaningfully participate in our state’s economy and sustain themselves and their families.

  • 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. 

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 fees and property taxes.

👉 Dive deeper: Budget writers throw support to community colleges

What’s Next: The Texas Commission on Community College Finance recently adopted recommendations to strengthen our higher education system.

  • Now, the 88th Texas Legislature must review and pass the recommendations through the legislative process to be implemented.

👉 Watch it: Texas 2036 Policy Advisor Renzo Soto will be testifying today before the Senate Committee on Finance in support of funding for community college reform.

More to Know: After the Commission was established in 2021, the attention and focus on how these public institutions are financed and how to better support them to reach desired state education and workforce outcomes increased.

  • In 2021 and 2022, we engaged more than 40 community college leaders, experts and researchers as well as consulted existing data sources and policy research to enhance public understanding of the pivotal role community colleges can play.

Digging into the Data: Our outreach and efforts to support the Commission culminated in our latest report, which highlights five key findings to reform community college finance.

👉 Read it: “Leveraging the Potential of Community Colleges in Data-Driven Workforce Development

Community College Finance Simulator 📊

Facts and Figures: To support the Texas Commission on Community College Finance, late last year we rolled out a preview of our Community College Finance Simulator.

  • The simulator shows how state funding is allocated to Texas’ 50 community college systems and the financial impacts of potential changes to current policies.

Coming Soon: The enhanced version will model the Commission’s recommendations to the State Legislature, allowing users to see how community colleges might benefit from proposed reforms.

👉 Stay tuned:

Do you want more Texans to have access to courses aligned with the job needs of employers?

Show your support for investing in community colleges!