According to the Annual Condition of Iowa’s Community Colleges report, the state’s community college enrollment decreased by 1.2 percent in 2018, while tuition increased.
However, the community colleges still serve over half of Iowa students pursuing higher education, and have seen a record 22.4 percent increase in minority enrollment, according to The Gazette.
Minority students in the state’s public school districts increased to a total of 113,076, or 24 percent of the total student body for the 2016-17 academic year, the report found. The percent of White students in Iowa’s public school districts decreased by 8 percent from 2005 to 2016.
“As a result, Iowa now has more minority students than ever in the pool of potential college graduates,” the report said.
The report also found a 2.3 percent increase in Iowa students who participated in “joint enrollment”, taking community college courses while still in high school. Of those students, 183 received associate degrees at the same time that they received their high school diploma.
All together, the 50.6 percent of all Iowa residents enrolled in public or private two- and four-year institutions contributed $5.4 billion to the state’s economy and filled over 107,000 jobs during the 2014-15 fiscal year.
“In return for every dollar students invest in the form of out-of-pocket expenses and forgone time and money, they receive a cumulative of $6.50 in higher future earnings,” according to the report. “Over a working lifetime, the average associate degree completer will see an increase in earnings amounting to an undiscounted value of approximately $418,000.”
However, getting state funding has been more difficult in recent years, with budget and revenue troubles leaving state legislatures and the governor to approve midyear cuts and returns for state public universities and community colleges, The Gazette reported.
This affected the increase of tuition for all community colleges throughout the state. The average cost of tuition and fees per credit hour for in-state students increased from around $176 during the 2017-18 school year to over $182 for the following term.