Community colleges and immigrants

Community college is the favored pathway of immigrants into high education. In 2009, the median income within all racial groups for adults with an associate’s degree was nearly twice that of persons who did not complete high school and nearly 40% greater than that of persons with only a high school degree.

A study found that in 2003–04, about a quarter of the nation’s 6.5 million degree seeking community college students came from an immigrant background. Among Latinos, Asians and Blacks, immigrants were more likely to attend community college than their native born peers. A study of the freshman class at the City University of New York (CUNY) system in 1997 found that 59.9% of the foreign-born students began in an associate’s degree program.

Financial aid: The proportion of immigrants who were low-income and therefore eligible for Pell grants (the largest federal program that subsidizes college costs for low-income students) was similar to the proportion of low-income native-born students.

Difficulty of completion: More than half of immigrants in college are over the age of twenty-four, one-third have dependents, and three-quarters work either part or full time while attending college as part-time students—all characteristics that are risk factors for dropping out of college.

Remediation: less than 25% of students who began community college in remedial courses completed a degree or certificate within eight years, compared with 40% of community college students who did not enroll in any remedial courses as first-time freshmen. In a study of a single urban community college, 85% of immigrants required remediation as first-time freshmen, often as a result of deficient English-language skills, compared with 55% of native-born students.

Percent of Latinos with higher ed who use community colleges is about 50% compared to 30% for whites…go here.

Source: Immigrants in community colleges, by Robert T. Teranishi, Carola Suárez-Orozco, and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco. Spring 2011 issue of The Future of Children

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