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Michigan community college growth ranks third lowest in the country, new study finds

Courtesey of Muskegon Community College

Michigan's community college enrollment growth is lagging behind the rest of the country, a new report has found.

The report by Business Leaders for Michigan also estimates that just over a quarter of community college students complete their course of study, but there is little data regarding completion rates of students who transfer from community colleges to other colleges and universities.

Jeff Donofrio is the president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. He said community college plays an important role in career and economic mobility.

“What we see in Michigan's community college system is there's pockets of excellence and there's good things to report from most institutions, but as a system we're struggling. We're 48th [in the country] in enrollment growth over the last ten years,” said Donofrio.

Michigan is the only state with no state agency gathering data or advising community colleges, Donofrio said. That means there is little data on those who may transfer to four-year programs.

Nearly 1.2 million Michigan residents have taken some college classes but do not have a degree, the report found.

“If you look at Michigan's demographics as our challenges in population growth, we need everybody. We can't leave anybody behind, and so it's really important to have a high functioning community college system,” Donofrio said.

The report recommends the state invest in resources for funding scholarship programs, and tracking the education trajectory of community college students.

Taylor Bowie is a senior studying English Literature at the University of Michigan and an intern in the Michigan Radio newsroom. She is originally from Owosso, Michigan.
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