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The current push for higher college graduation rates is great, however it also is posing some new threats to Community Colleges. The threats being publicized include:

1. Multiple erroneous statements that funding used for Community Colleges students that do not graduate with a degree or certificate is a waste of tax payers money,
2. A proposal to dumb down the courses to push up graduation rates and
3. Legislative discussions to replacing open enrollment with selective enrollment to push up graduation rates.

Stating that a low completion rate is a waste of taxpayers money, neglects the economic facts. The increase in median annual earnings achieved by a Community College Graduate reference a High School graduate is $9,889. Using a graduation rate of 20%, requires 80 % of the students to fall within the U.S. Census category, "Some College no degree". This category has a median annual earnings increase of $6,359.  (Data source provided in note below.)

Therefore the expected educational annual earnings increase for every 100,000 community college students with a 20% graduation rate is:

100,000 x 0.20 x $9,889 = $197,870,000 from associate degree graduates and
100,000 x 0.80 x $6,359 = $508,720,000 from college attendees that do not graduate.

The non graduates in this scenario contribute 2.57 more dollars to our economy than associate degree graduates!

More graduates would be better, there is no problem with the existing taxpayer's, return on investment.

Dumbing down the courses will both, increase graduation rates and decrease the taxpayer's return on investment, as all attendees will loose earning power.

Moving from open enrollment to selective enrollment will increase graduation rates and eliminate the opportunity for our most needy citizens, a very costly proposition and the end of "Community" Colleges.

These are real threats to the United States Community College System. We encourage those trying to improve Community College graduation rates to follow "DO NO HARM" principles.  Any rewards tied to increased graduation rates should have penalties for actions that harm the system.

Note:
http://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/education/
Education and Synthetic Work-Life Earnings Estimates (ACS-14). 
Full time workers median income: High School (HS); $34,197,
Some College (SC); $40,556 & Associate Degree (AD); $44,086.
HS to SC delta ($40,556 - $34,197) $6,359. HS to AD delta ($44,086 - $34,197) $9,889.

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