Girl with degree from community colleges

Getting a college degree is more important and more expensive than ever before. Community colleges play a significant role in supporting students in higher education and equipping students with the skills and resources to enter the workforce. Community colleges in Arizona can now offer four-year degrees, but what does this look like, and how does it affect our economy? 

Dorn Policy Group, Inc. is one of Arizona’s top public affairs firms. We partner with organizations to ensure their business goals are met and voices are heard by Arizona’s elected officials. Read our blog post below and learn what four-year community college degrees mean for our economy. 

Rules for Community Colleges Offering Four Year Degrees

In May 2021, Governor Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1453, allowing community colleges to offer four-year degrees. Arizona joins 23 other states that allow community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees. Under the new law, community colleges offering four-year programs have several limitations, including:

  • Programs must be based on workforce needs.
  • The community college must run a financial and administrative analysis of offering the degree program.
  • Community colleges must avoid duplicating programs offered at state schools. 

These rules are meant to limit the adverse effects of the bill on traditional four-year colleges. However, the new law does not allow public universities to prevent a community college from offering a baccalaureate degree, but it does place limitations on the number of four-year degrees a community college can offer. When a new program is added at a community college, bachelor’s degrees cannot make up more than 5% of the degrees for the first four years. After four years, the program cannot offer more than 10% bachelor’s degrees.

Effect of Community Colleges on Students

At Maricopa County Community Colleges, tuition for the first two years is capped at $1,020 a semester for 15 credit hours. The new law allows for a tuition increase of 150% for the last two years. Even with this increase, tuition would total a little more than $3,000 a semester. The average in-state tuition at Arizona State University is between $9,000 and $12,000, meaning that a four-year degree at a community college would cost much less to earn. This makes higher education affordable for lower-income families and students.

The new law opens the door for better representation of minority students in higher education. Maricopa Community College District Interim Chancellor Steven Gonzales said, “more students of color start at community colleges than anywhere else in higher education.” These students will sometimes transfer to four-year colleges, but oftentimes this is not an easy transition. The new law may also increase equity and access to more Arizonans who wish to further their education.

How This Affects the Economy

Maricopa Community Colleges can enroll students in four-year programs as early as fall 2023. The Governor’s Office released a statement that this bill is “an important and timely shift to reskill and upskill Arizona’s workforce to meet the needs of the growing economy and provide a pathway to economic prosperity for more Arizonans.” More four-year degrees should increase graduation rates and expand the skill set of Arizona’s workforce. This will be especially beneficial to high-need industries as many community colleges will offer programs in fields like health care, information technology, and education.

Dorn Policy Group, Inc. Advocates for Arizona

As one of the leading Arizona public affairs firms, we know how important it is to have relationships with key elected officials and community leaders. With such a large, diverse community, it can be difficult getting your voice heard. Dorn Policy Group, Inc. ensures you are represented in the best possible light. Contact us today and learn how we can help your business find success through strong government relations. 

Girl takes online higher education course

Online options for higher education programs are on the rise. Anything from general education courses to graduate level courses are available to students from their own living room. Learning is more accessible than ever with online courses offering students flexible schedules, affordable options, and location freedom.

Dorn Policy Group, Inc. is one of Arizona’s leading government relations firms that specialize in making your voice heard by key policymakers to maximize your business’s success. Read our article below and learn more about how the availability of online courses may impact higher education.

About Online Courses

Online courses have become even more popular over the last couple of years as COVID-19 made distance learning a necessity in higher education. While many students have returned to campuses and lecture halls, online courses are available as alternatives to traditional in-person learning. A variety of educational institutions offer many different kinds of online learning opportunities through training courses, certifications, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and even PhD degrees. 

Advantages of Online Courses

The availability of online courses has multiple advantages for students beyond what their in-person counterparts offer. For many learners, the primary benefit of online learning is schedule flexibility. Students can earn their degree or certificate around full-time work schedules or on an accelerated timeline. In addition to schedule flexibility, online classes have several other advantages that make achieving educational and career goals more accessible:

  • Lower Costs: While students may pay the same per-credit tuition as on-campus learners, they save by not paying for on-campus housing, meal plans, and commute costs.
  • Comfortable Learning Environments: With the ability to study anywhere, online learners can complete coursework at home, a coffee shop, or a library.
  • Geographic Flexibility: Online learners do not have to relocate in order to attend premier schools. They can live close to family or have the freedom to travel while earning their degree.
  • Improving Technical Skills: Online courses teach students technical skills they need on the job. On top of their normal curriculum, they learn how to utilize software, do online research, and communicate effectively through technology.

Online Courses Impact on the Workforce

Online courses have many advantages for individuals looking to further their education, but they also have positive impacts outside of education. Students who are able to learn online can have a positive impact on the current and future workforce. According to a Brandon-Hall Study, e-learning typically requires 40-60 percent less time than learning the same material in a traditional classroom setting. Students are able to further their education without interrupting workflow. Online students are also more likely to finish their coursework. The Research Institute of America found that e-learning increases retention rates by 25-60 percent. Higher retention rates result in a more educated workforce down the road.

Dorn Policy Group, Inc. Advocates for Higher Education

With a variety of in-person and online learning options available, there’s no better time to consider continuing your education. Elected officials are constantly discussing legislation that impacts educational opportunities across Arizona, but that shouldn’t mean you can’t have a seat at the table.

When you partner with a government relations firm like Dorn Policy Group, Inc., you’re not just getting our support. You gain an invaluable partner that advocates for your success. With nearly 60 years of combined experience, we’re experts in obtaining the results you need for success. Contact us today to learn more about our services and what we can do for you. 

A classroom full of students and a teacher school funding

If there is one thing people can agree on, it is that kids need the proper resources for their education. One way districts achieve this is through school funding. According to Bruce D. Baker, a professor of education at Rutgers University in New Jersey, students benefit from ample funding. School administrators and teaching staff also benefit from the funding. With proper funding, staff can be paid a more desirable salary, enticing more people to join the education workforce. 

By enlisting the help of an experienced advocacy group, professionals in the education industry can get the policy results they desire. At Dorn Policy Group, we have partnered with a wide range of industry leaders for over 20 years. Through strategic planning and strong political relationships, we have helped schools influence policies in their favor.

How School Funding Benefits The Students

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y), it is not always about the money, but it is always about how it is spent – and the results. However, studies show when schools have more money, they can provide students with the resources they need for a better education. Unfortunately, schools in poorer areas often fall behind due to disproportionate funding. When studying how proper funding could help students from poor families, Kirabo Jackson and Claudia Persico from the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that with a 10% increase in funding, there was also an increase in students’ earnings as adults. 

There are two rules of thought in how schools use their funding. One, schools must meet the state-regulated minimum standardized test scores. The other, individuals believe investing in the equity of education builds stronger education institutions. While the end goal of both is to better support student education, it has created a call to action for both interested parties. 

How School Funding Benefits Teachers and Curriculum

With more money going to schools, the greater they can increase staff wages. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between increased teacher wages and student achievement. This is presumably due to the fact it will increase the school’s ability to hire and retain capable teachers. 

In addition, greater funding provides school districts with the capital needed to update their curriculum and resources, such as computers, textbooks, supplies, and before/after school programming. These resources are fundamental for educators to further student education.

Secure Your School Funding With Dorn Policy Group

For 20 years, Dorn Policy Group has been one of Arizona’s leading advocacy groups in government affairs. As a results-driven firm, we work with every client to ensure their voice is heard by the policymakers who matter most. Contact us today to learn how we can help you reach your goals.

At Dorn Policy Group, we specialize in many different issue areas including education, both K-12 and higher education. Our client K-12, Inc.,  offers many different educational tools for students, teachers, and administrators to help during this unprecedented time. If you are an educational institution, it is crucial to have a lobbyist to ensure your institution is funded and able to provide the right tools to students, teachers, and administrators. 

The Future of Remote Learning

Even before COVID-19, more and more schools began to implement an online program. Charter schools and higher education virtual programs have been growing in popularity as they allow students to have access to a classroom setting regardless of their geographical location. As a result of COVID-19, Arizona schools have incurred additional costs they were not prepared for. Remote learning will continue to grow; however, lobbyists can help to ensure funding remains available and steady flowing. 

Lobbying for Education

You may wonder, why would educational institutions need a lobbyist? Lobbying firms help schools attract and retain government funding. Funding for programs remain slim; therefore, it is important to have representation when legislators are voting on funding mechanisms. At the higher education level, schools face heavy competition to retain funding for various programs. By increasing your presence in front of the right government officials through an experienced lobbying firm is the first step in keeping your funding intact. 

At Dorn Policy Group, we have very extensive experience with education policy funding on the State and Federal levels. Now more than ever, it is crucial to partner with a lobbying firm to protect education funding from being cut. Due to the effects of COVID-19, it is important that students have access to educational resources. Contact Dorn Policy Group to learn more about how lobbying can protect your institution’s funding. 

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