Students, trustees, employees, and other supporters of Missouri’s community colleges will rally at the Missouri State Capitol on Feb. 22.
“Rally Day” will provide an opportunity for those attending to meet with legislators and state officials and to urge support of Missouri’s community colleges.
“Legislators understand the importance of community colleges to the vitality of the state,” said Zora Mulligan, executive director of the Missouri Community College Association (MCCA). “Rally Day will allow those legislators to hear directly how our institutions have literally changed individual lives and made a difference in the communities they represent.”
Representatives and supporters from St. Charles Community College will be participating.
“It’s important for our legislators to hear from their constituents about the impact of a community college education to their home districts,” said Ron Chesbrough, president of St. Charles Community College. “Connecting faces and success stories to their community college will provide our state representatives and senators with valuable insight to the value of an affordable, accessible quality higher education.”
Approximately 15 people from SCC are expected to take part in Rally Day including trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and students.
The rally will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the capitol rotunda, and will include two state lawmakers who are products of the state’s community college system alongside Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson at the event on Feb. 22.
Senator Ryan McKenna and Representative Todd Richardson will speak at the rally. Sen. McKenna is a former student at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, and Rep. Richardson attended Three Rivers College in Poplar Bluff.
Legislative priorities for community colleges this year include maintaining funding for operations, continuing to fund the A+ scholarship program, identifying sources of funding for capital projects, enhancing workforce competitiveness through training programs, and maintaining a strong nursing workforce.
Over the past 10 years, enrollment in Missouri’s community colleges has increased by more than 50 percent, growing twice as fast as public university enrollment between 2001 and 2010, according to MCCA.
Missouri has 12 community college districts serving more than 152,000 students taking classes for college credit and 126,000 non-credit students. Nationally, community colleges enroll nearly half of all undergraduates.
Students attending community colleges overwhelmingly tend to stay in the state to live and work. MCCA estimates that 93 percent of community college students in the state will stay in Missouri.
A community college education pays strong dividends to the state and to individual students. Taxpayers see a rate of return of 6.7 percent on their investment in Missouri’s community colleges.
Students who obtain an associate degree earn an average of $11,000 more each year than those who hold only a high school diploma.
The added income generated by Missouri’s community colleges contributes approximately $330 million in income to the state’s economy each year, according to MCCA.
Taking a longer view, over the past 30 years it is estimated that the contributions of a community college educated workforce have translated into $4.7 billion in added state income, due primarily to higher earnings and increased business output.
In addition to programs of study intended to allow a student to transfer to a four-year institution or go directly into a career or technical field, community colleges provide a wealth of training for the state’s businesses and industries.
Established in 1986, St. Charles Community College is celebrating 25 years as a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit www.stchas.edu.