Strengthening Rural Community Colleges

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.


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

Read Our Report


Stay Engaged with the Initiative

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Federal Grant Opportunities

Department of Agriculture [USDA]

Department of Commerce [DOC]

Department of Education [ED]

Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

Department of Labor [DOL]


State Legislative Initiatives




New Mexico

South Dakota




New York





North Carolina





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West Virginia



New Hampshire

Rhode Island




New Jersey

South Carolina




The following resources were compiled for rural community college leaders to support their institutions and students. Click on each resource for more information.

Affordable Connectivity Program - Expanded Broadband Access

On May 9, 2022, President Biden and Vice President Harris announced the securement of private sector commitments towards the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). As a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Affordable Connectivity Program will provide eligible households up to $30 per month off their internet bills. The private sector commitments of 20 leading internet providers will also offer ACP-eligible households a high-speed internet plan for no more than $30 per month. Households on Tribal Lands are eligible for a discount of up to $75 per month. You can also choose to apply your ACP benefit to a different provider. There are over 1,300 providers that accept the ACP benefit, and you can visit here to find a provider near you.

Global CTE Toolkit - Asia Society

This toolkit provides resources to help CTE educators integrate global issues and skills into what is already being taught in their classrooms. This toolkit includes: sample projects ready to be used in CTE classrooms, global career planning resources, workforce readiness rubrics, crosswalks of global education and CTE standards, global career profile videos, talking points, and more. (See menu on the left to help you navigate the toolkit). Click here to access the Global CTE Toolkit.

NCII Rural Community College Leader Series

In response to today's challenges that rural community colleges are facing the National Center for Inquiry & Improvement (NCII) convened the Rural Leader Learning Community (RLLC). Through the RLLC, NCII compiled the Rural Community College Leader Series written by college practitioners for college practitioners and designed to be accessible and action-oriented. Each of the briefs includes a short overview of the topic, examples of how colleges are working to address the issue, and a set of discussion questions college leaders can use to explore the matter further. Access the Rural Community College Leader Series here.

SHSF Public Transit Map

In the Spring of 2021, the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation (SHSF) published the SHSF Public Transit Map, which assessed public transit accessibility at community colleges across the United States. They found that only 57% of community colleges are transit accessible, but an additional 25% could be made accessible through very low-cost investments in extending existing bus lines. This data provided the foundation for the bipartisan PATH to College Act, which captures all of the recommendations of the SHSF Public Transit Map research brief. Review the SHSF Public Transit Map and resources here.

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Rural Playbook

Playbook intended to help rural communities understand the available funding for infrastructure provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other sources – offering information on the “what, where, and how” to apply for federal infrastructure dollars. Review the Rural Playbook here.



Latest Posts

July 8, 2022 | Central Community College: Health Profession Opportunity Grant Program

July 5, 2022 | How Micro-credentials Can Support Social Mobility in Rural Communities

June 22, 2022 | Reflecting on Best Practices

May 25, 2022 | Sharing USDOL Grant Experiences

May 18, 2022 | Helping Rural Community College Adjust to a Post-COVID World

May 11, 2022 | Expanding Access Through Reducing Cost of High-Speed Internet

April 20, 2022 | Are community colleges transit accessible?

June 14, 2021 | ACCT Expands Initiative to Strengthen America’s Rural Community Colleges

May 20, 2021 | A Mental Health Crisis Looms in Rural America – Community Colleges Can Help

March 16, 2021 | New ACCT Paper Assesses Rural College Needs, Showcases Innovative Solutions to Making Do with Limited Resources

February 19, 2020 | ACCT Rural Colleges Initiative Fact Finding Begins

August 21, 2019 | ACCT Announces New Initiative to Strengthen Rural Community Colleges

February 11, 2019 | Prior Research: The Rural Male in Higher Education


Media Highlights

Public News Service | Rural CA Community Colleges Move to Combat Poverty, Digital Divide

The Daily Yonder | Rural Community Colleges See Slump in Enrollment Due to the Pandemic

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education | Report Highlights Challenges Facing Rural Communities

The Chronicle of Higher Education | 4 Challenges That Threaten College Completion Now and Post-Pandemic

Inside Higher Ed | Problems Facing Rural Community Colleges

ABC 36 News | Rural community college students face more challenges: Study

NPR Utah | Rural Community College Enrollment Took A Huge Hit From Pandemic



Community FacilitiesCommunity Facilities - July 2022
Protecting the Mental Health of Rural Community College StudentsProtecting the Mental Health of Rural Community College Students - August 2022
Cultivating Digital EquityCultivating Digital Equity - September 2022




Rural Peer Learning Network

community-facilities-grantsSharing Community Facilities Grants Experiences
rural-health-grantsSharing Rural Health Grants Experiences
reflecting-on-best-practicesReflecting on Best Practices



Our Team

steve-jurchSteve Jurch, Director, Center for Policy and Practice
sean-robinsSean Robins, Policy Associate