Associate’s Degree Students Were Front and Center At #NLS2015

Thousands of community college students, teachers, presidents and advocates flocked to Washington, D.C for the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit that took place last week.

Given that college enrollment has boomed by over 21%, according to the American Association of Community College, in the wake of the recent Recession, it comes as no surprise that many community colleges were represented last week. Faces could be seen and voices could be heard from Brookhaven College, El Centro College, Halifax Community College, Shawnee College, Central Pennsylvania Community College and East Central College just to name a few.

This year’s Summit was particularly important as Congress is set to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, which was initially due for review in 2013, but an extension was filed instead and stalled any reauthorization plans held by Congress at the time.

Advocates in attendance are hoping to see major strides made for community colleges and their students. Some of the issues pushed during the Summit were Obama’s newly proposed America’s College Promise, year long Pell Grants, increased community college semesters, responsible student borrowing, streamlining and simplifying the FAFSA process among a few others.

Second Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, attended the Summit and spoke about the importance of community colleges and all that can be gained by students who attend them. Her presence was fitting as she is a lifelong educator and current faculty member at Northern Virginia Community College.

During the Summit Dr. Biden said the following:

“We all know the responsibility for educating students is not the student’s alone. It is a responsibility that belongs to all of us.

Community colleges are uniquely positioned to fulfill this responsibility – to meet the needs of the actual community where they live – whether that means gathering with local employers on credentialing, working to make sure classes are flexible for working families, or supporting a seamless transition to a four-year degree.

Because, we all reap the benefits when our citizens are well-educated and well-trained. It means that our economies are more vibrant, and our future is brighter.

You understand that better than anyone. Which is why we need you. As you heard, during the State of the Union, President Obama has big plans for community colleges and this administration needs you to keep making your voices heard, and to bring others into the fold.

Over the next few months, the administration is going to build a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, philanthropists and, most importantly, higher education leaders like all of you to support our efforts to strengthen community colleges, because all Americans deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential.

This is the moment for community colleges to shine.”

Now that the Summit is over the waiting game continues as Congress combs through all of the topics in need of attention to make community college better for current and future students.

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