California's 109 community colleges offer the most affordable option in the U.S. for students and their families. A new report ranks the state at the top of the nation, noting that more than 2.5 million students turn to the system for education. This news contrasts with the sobering announcement from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that the state's current fiscal crisis will lead to budget cutbacks and tuition increases.
The same report flunked all other 49 states for charging families too much, including the state of Washington, where it is estimated a family spends more than a third of its income on a 2-year college degree. The same state, however, offers baccalaureate degrees through its 2-year college program, often by partnering with 4-year colleges. Similar efforts are under way at New Jersey and Arizona community colleges. One report estimates that 36% of low income families' students complete college compared to 81% of high income families, figures that have inspired The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support efforts to help more low-income American students finish college.
The report ranked states on preparing high school graduation rates, college participation rates, rates of completion, and baccalaureate attainment rates.