Income tax proposal could hurt community colleges


Capital News Service

LANSING — Things were different in the 20th century. Back then, there were all sorts of trade jobs available to high school graduates who just needed some extra training, and those careers were especially abundant in the thriving Michigan manufacturing sector.

Finish up school, learn the craft and trickle into the workforce -– that was the course for a happy middle-class existence.

But, for most people, it isn’t like that anymore.

“Michigan’s still a very heavily manufacturing-based economy. There’s still a lot of manufacturing in Michigan,” said Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association. “It’s just that manufacturing has changed, where it has become more automated, more technical, more complex and requires therefore higher levels of skill. Continue reading

Business groups, community colleges push to expand job training


Capital News Service

LANSING – Business groups and community colleges are pushing to expand a statewide new job training program.

Community colleges run the program for employers that create new jobs. It gives the new employees free training.

It is paid for by capturing the state income tax revenue of the newly hired employees for the first year. After that, those revenues revert to the state, said Mike Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association.

The program was approved in 2008 with a $50 million cap. When that cap is reached, the additional new revenues revert to the state’s general fund.

But the demand for more training programs is greater, supporters say. And now that the cap has been reached, the community colleges and employers  must wait for for the amount in the fund to dip below it before they can start new programs, Hansen said. Continue reading

Grant could offer a second chance to finish community college

Capital News Service

LANSING — People who never got the chance to finish their degree just might if a proposal in Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget to renew funding for an education grant is approved.

The Independent Part-Time Student Grant was discontinued in 2009 during a budget crisis. But the governor’s $6 million proposal to revive the grant could mean a big difference for students who never finished their community college degree.

“There’s a significant number of these people, they start and for whatever reason, don’t finish with a degree,” said Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association. “Maybe because you ran out of money, because life things got in the way.”
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If bachelors degree elusive, associate degree is fallback


Capital News Service

LANSING – A new agreement between Grand Valley State University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College will make it easier for four-year students to obtain an associate degree.

Reverse transfer allows students who do not complete a four-year degree to receive an associate degree for their completed credits at local institutions.

“There is such high value in a student having an associate degree,” said Olin Joynton, president of Alpena Community College. “When a student transfers to a four-year university and is not able to complete that degree, reverse transfer allows them evidence of completion of a degree.”

Alpena currently has agreements with Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University and others.

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Veterans would get break in community college tuition


Capital News Service

LANSING – A constitutional amendment that would give all service members and veterans in-district community college tuition regardless of where they live could be on the ballot in 2014.

With thousands of returning service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, many are accessing educational benefits from the federal government.

The state constitutional amendment would provide returning veterans with more affordable college options, according to a legislative analysis.

But opponents say the amendment would hurt colleges by reducing tuition that comes from the federal government not students.

According to the College Board, the average tuition rate nationally in 2013 for a two-year institution is $3,131.

Michigan students on average pay $85 a credit hour for in-district tuition versus $140 an hour for out-of-district tuition, according to the Michigan Community College Association.

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Community colleges seek ways to better prepare students


Capital News Service

LANSING – Almost half of students entering community college find themselves unprepared, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, and new strategies are being formed to better equip students for success.

Forty-two percent of students were not ready for the regular courses, said GAO, an investigatory arm of Congress. As a result, they were required to take developmental classes.

There are multiple ways to test college readiness, said Mike Hansen, president of Michigan Community College Association.

Typically the ACT test is used to measure knowledge, and many community colleges are finding a large majority of their students are not “college ready” in most subject areas, he said.

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Community colleges vie for ‘pathways’ grants


Capital News Service

LANSING – Grand Rapids Community College hopes to be awarded a grant to improve career pathways for adult learners through counseling before and after enrollment.

“This grant will help us fill some gaps we have in programs and help us possibly make some previous work experience transfer into credit,” said George Waite, director of employee training at the college.

The Pathways to Credentials grant would be administered by the Michigan Community College Association’s Center for Student Success and funded by the Kresge Foundation.
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Community colleges, manufacturers team up to fill middle-skill jobs


Capital News Service

LANSING– With the state’s manufacturing industry facing a talent crisis, the Michigan Manufacturers Association and the Michigan Community College Association are collaborating to meet the demand for middle-skill workers.

As technology advances, a lot of jobs require people with the right skills, said Delaney McKinley, director of human resource policy for the Manufacturers Association.

And the shortage could get worse as the workforce ages and skilled workers retire, according to the association.
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Community colleges work to facilitate developmental education


Capital News Service

LANSING – About 60 percent of students who show up at a community college need at least one developmental course in math, English or reading, according to Michigan Community College Association President Michael Hansen.

Hansen said, “A large percentage of those students – if they make it out of their developmental education sequence – their chances for actually completing a degree are much lower than the students that don’t get placed in.”

And Jenny Schanker, associate director of the Michigan Center for Student Success, said a strategy community colleges are using to alleviate that problem is communication with their K-12 partners.
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Community colleges boost out-of-state enrollments, revenue


Capital News Service

LANSING – Community colleges in Michigan are enrolling more out-of-state students and international students, a trend that may add dollars to their budgets.

Among 28 community colleges, 21 have an out-of-state and international tuition rate twice as high as in-district tuition, according to the Michigan Community College Association.

Courtesy of Michigan Community College Association

For example, tuition at Lansing Community College this fall is $81 per credit hour for in-district students, $162 for out-of-district students and $243 for out-of-state and international students.
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