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Community Colleges since the Great Recession

Community colleges, which enroll more than 40 percent of postsecondary students, continue to gain prominence in discussions of public policies for higher education and job training. In 2010, the federal government invested $2 billion in nearly two-thirds of the nation’s community colleges to build capacity and spur innovation in job training. Proposals for free tuition at community colleges have gained national attention. A significant share of the Pell grant expansion has benefited community college students.

Community colleges serve large numbers of academically underprepared students with fewer resources than any other sector of higher education. This has exacerbated their challenges in increasing completion rates and meeting industry needs.

This panel focused on the emerging issues facing community colleges since the Great Recession. The discussion highlighted variation among institutions and differences across state systems, along with tested policy and institutional solutions that bolster student success and economic development. Panelists discussed findings from two new Urban Institute briefs.



  • David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis, American Association of Community Colleges
  • Sandy Baum, senior fellow, Income and Benefits Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Lauren Eyster, senior research associate, Income and Benefits Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Dan Phelan, president, Jackson College
  • Margery Austin Turner, senior vice president for program planning and management, Urban Institute 
  • David Wessel, director, Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy; senior fellow in Economic Studies, Brookings Institution (moderator)
Event Materials


For inquiries regarding this event, please contact [email protected].


Photo by Katie Falkenberg/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images



Date & Time Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Urban Institute 2100 M Street NW
5th floor
Washington , DC , 20037
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  • Nonresident Senior Fellow
  • Senior Fellow