Executive Summary

With low tuition and a longstanding policy of full and open access, the CCCs are designed around a remarkable idea: that higher education should be available to everyone.

The CCCs are equally remarkable for their versatility. They are the state’s primary entry point into collegiate degree programs, the primary system for delivering career technical education and workforce training, a major provider of adult education, apprenticeship, and English as a Second Language courses, and a source of lifelong learning opportunities for California’s diverse communities.

The CCCs have made significant strides in the last five years through sustained reform efforts in the areas of student success, transfer, and career technical education. The colleges are now well-poised to build on this success and accelerate the pace of improvement.



At the same time,
the CCCs face very serious challenges today:

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Most students who enter a community college never complete a degree or certificate or transfer to a 4-year university. Researchers project that California’s public higher education system is not producing nearly enough educated graduates to meet future workforce needs.

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CCC students who do reach a defined educational goal such as a degree or transfer take a long time to do so, often accumulating many excess course credits along the way.

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Older and working CCC students are often left behind in the system, lacking services and financial aid that suit their needs.

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CCCs are more expensive than they appear—both to students and taxpayers— because of slow time-to-completion and a lack of financial aid
to cover students’ living expenses.

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Serious and stubborn achievement gaps persist across the CCCs and high-need regions of the state are not served equitably.