ECC students and staff meet with state legislators

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East Central College students, trustees and staff members visited the State Capital February 22 for Community College Rally Day.

Front row, from left, are students Cady Honey, Jessica Somers, and Angela Bolzenius, Vice President of Student Development Cookie Hays, and Executive Director of the ECC Foundation Shannon Grus.  Back row, from left, are Vice President of Finance and Administration Dr. Jon Bauer, trustees Tom Dill and Don Kappelmann, students Justin Ferris, Jonathan McCarty, JD Johnson, and Ricky Sang, ECC President Dr. Ed Jackson and Senator Brian Nieves.

Jefferson City, Mo - Approximately 150 students, trustees, employees, and other supporters of Missouri’s community colleges rallied at the Missouri State Capitol on February 22.

“Rally Day” provided an opportunity to meet with legislators and state officials and to urge support of Missouri’s community colleges.

Seven East Central College students, accompanied by several ECC trustees and staff members, met with Senator Brian Nieves as well as Representatives Dave Hinson, Bart Korman and Dave Schatz.

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 per cent, growing twice as fast as public university enrollment between 2001 and 2010, according to the Missouri Community College Association.

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 per cent 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% 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.