Brookings: Remove Barriers to Improve Completion Rates

Community colleges have the potential to provide students across the United States with viable pathways into good-paying jobs. However, many students who enroll in community college in the United States do not complete a certificate or degree. Specifically, fewer than 40 percent of community college students earn a certificate or degree within six years of enrollment (Bailey et al. 2015). Individuals who do not complete any type of certificate (also referred to as a credential) beyond a high school diploma face dramatically reduced earning potential (Belfield and Bailey 2017). Low completion rates are thus an urgent problem for millions of Americans seeking a pathway into the middle class and employers reliant on a skilled and educated workforce.

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