RAMC Urges Congress to Reconsider How Federal COVID Relief Funds are Distributed to Better Support Parity for Community Colleges

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rebuilding America’s Middle Class (RAMC), A coalition of community colleges, today sent a letter requesting congressional leaders reconsider how federal COVID relief aid is distributed to postsecondary institutions, noting that the current process of calculating funding allocations based on full-time equivalency puts community colleges at a distinct disadvantage.

In the letter, RAMC Board President and Chancellor of Dallas College Joe May explains that, although community colleges have a greater percentage of part-time students, these institutions are crucial to providing accessible and affordable education and workforce training opportunities to a diverse student body, including 44.6 percent of all African American undergraduates, 49.7 percent of all Hispanic undergraduates, and 48 percent of Native American undergraduates:

Community colleges are open access, seek to make higher education accessible and affordable for everyone and match employers’ need for a larger, more diverse workforce. We know the importance of preparing more Americans to enter the workforce with the skills necessary to compete for in-demand jobs, especially during times of economic recession or labor market contraction…

While our colleges are working diligently and creatively to find new outlets to support students and their communities, additional aid from the Federal government is vital to our continued ability to help students during this crisis and ensure community colleges across America can continue to effectively and nimbly respond to our nation’s changing education and workforce demands. Without additional support, we may no longer be able to serve our students due to significant revenue losses as the pandemic continues.

The letter provides examples to illustrate RAMC members’ concerns about the disparities that result from allocating federal funds based on full-time equivalency. In the 2017-18 academic year, approximately 22 million undergraduate students were enrolled at postsecondary institutions; approximately 40 percent of those students (8.5 million) were enrolled at community colleges. In Fall 2018, over 7 million students enrolled in college on a part-time basis and about half of those students attended a community college, yet, despite serving roughly half of the nation’s postsecondary students, community colleges only received about a quarter (27 percent) of the funding allocated through CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief funds.

“We urge Federal policymakers to ensure that future higher education funding related to COVID-19 relief is distributed using a total headcount formula. It is imperative that we equitably invest in and support our community colleges and their students in the next COVID-19 package advanced by Congress,” May concludes in the letter.

To read the letter in full, click here.