The Rural Community College Landscape

According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are over 260 rural community colleges in the United States which educate nearly 670,000 students a year. Rural community colleges provide a number of vital functions. In addition to offering educational opportunities and vocational training, many represent the largest employer in their communities. In order to best serve these colleges and their students, it is critical that we understand their successes and their challenges, and develop policy solutions to support rural institutions and their communities in achieving academic and economic prosperity.

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About the Strengthening Rural Community Colleges Initiative

With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ACCT assessed the needs of rural community colleges, focusing specifically on five states: California, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Texas. While the initiative focused on five states, we collected feedback from rural community colleges across the nation.

As part of this initiative we:

Research

the needs facing rural communities and their institutions

Convene

trustees, presidents, and community stakeholders in each state

Advocate

for rural institutions and recommend policies that support the long-term success of students, institutions, and communities.

This 18 month initiative culminated in a report including five state profiles, state and federal policy recommendations, and an examination of what it means to be a rural institution.

Released Report


Strengthening Rural Community Colleges: Innovations and Opportunities details the needs and challenges of rural community colleges throughout the United States.


The exact number of rural community colleges in the United States varies based on who is counting. According to the Department of Education, there are 260 rural community colleges in the United States. The Rural Community College Alliance (RCCA) puts the number between 600 and 800. This wide disparity can be attributed in part to disagreements over the definition of rural. At the federal level, there are more than a dozen different definitions of rurality, based on a variety of factors, from population density to geographic isolation, to socioeconomic indicators. The wide variety of definitions is in many ways appropriate, as it underscores the fact that rural America is not a monolith; however, the different standards complicate assessing rural community college needs. Below you can see the large variation between the two definitions of rurality.


Rural Definition 1

Rural Definition 2

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Our Team

Jee Hang Lee

Jee Hang Lee

Senior Vice President

Rachel Rush-Marlowe

Rachel Rush-Marlowe

Senior Program Manager

About ACCT

The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) is a non-profit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern over 1,200 community, technical, and junior colleges in the United States and beyond.

These community professionals, business officials, public policy leaders, and leading citizens offer their time and talent to serve on the governing boards of this century’s most innovative higher education institutions-community, junior, and technical colleges-and make decisions that affect more than 1,200 colleges and over 11 million students annually.

For more information

https://www.acct.org/

Contact Us

Contact Details

Association of Community College Trustees, 1101 17th St NW #300, Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-775-4667 | Toll Free: (866) 895-2228
Email: acctinfo@acct.org