Enrollment, funding increases had good starts but didn’t last
President Barack Obama promised to increase college-level or AP class enrollment by 50 percent, and to provide grants to community college students.
During his campaign, Obama promised to "create a national 'Make College a Reality' initiative that has a bold goal to increase students taking AP or college-level classes nationwide 50 percent by 2016, and will build on Obama's bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Senate to provide grants for students seeking college level credit at community colleges if their school does not provide those resources."
In 2010, we ranked this promise Stalled. We wanted to see if anything had happened since then.
At the time of the last promise update, Congress was working on passing the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009. It passed the House, but never passed the Senate.
Obama also proposed "America's College Promise" in 2015, which would have made two years at a community college free for "responsible students." But the proposal didn't receive any funding in 2016.
Community colleges did receive an extra $2 billion total during 2011-14 fiscal years from the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. But nothing replaced that funding after that money ran out.
In addition, the 2008-09 school year saw $19.8 million worth of awards Pell Grant awards. Funding peaked in the 2010-11 school year at $39 million, and then fell to $30.3 million in the 2014-15 school year (which is the most recent data available).
A Pell Grant is government-provided money to help students pay for college.
The second part of Obama's promise is to "increase students taking AP or college-level classes nationwide 50 percent by 2016."
In the 2008-09 school year, 19.1 million students were enrolled in a degree-granting postsecondary institution. That same year, 1.7 million students took an Advanced Placement (AP) course. So in all, 20.8 million students were enrolled in a college-level course.
In the 2014-15 school year (the most recent data available), 20.2 million students were enrolled in a degree-granting postsecondary institution and 2.5 million students took an AP class. That means that 22.7 million students were enrolled in college-level classes during the 2014-15 school year. That means enrollment increased about 9 percent.
Obama promised to increase AP and college-level courses by 50 percent, as well as provide funds for community college students. Funding did increase, but did not maintain its peak levels. In addition, enrollment rose, but not by 50 percent. We rate this Compromise.
Email interview with David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis at the American Association of Community Colleges, Sept. 14, 2016
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Years of Cuts Threaten to Put College out of Reach for More Students, May 13, 2015
CollegeBoard, Federal Pell Grants in Current and Constant Dollars over Time, accessed Sept. 16, 2016
National Center for Education Statistics, Table 303.25 Total fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control and level of institution: 1970-2014, accessed Sept. 19, 2016
National Center for Education Statistics, Undergraduate Enrollment, May 2016
PolitiFact, Program to boost access to college-level courses not advancing yet, Jan. 5, 2010
Tom Price, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Budget, A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America, Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Resolution, March 2016
U.S. Labor Department, Program Summary, Sept. 30, 2014
Program to boost access to college-level courses not advancing yet
During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised "a national 'Make College a Reality' initiative that has a bold goal to increase students taking AP or college-level classes nationwide 50 percent by 2016, and will build on Obama's bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Senate to provide grants for students seeking college-level credit at community colleges if their school does not provide those resources."
However, searches using Nexis, Google and Whitehouse.gov turned up no evidence that the administration has done something tangible to advance this promise or anything like it.
Congress has been working on a bill that would boost community colleges. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3221) passed the House on Sept. 17, 2009, by a 253-171 vote. The measure now awaits action by the Senate.
It authorizes grants totaling $730 million for each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2013, and $680 million for each of the fiscal years 2014 through 2019. These grants would aid community colleges in such areas as creating job-training partnerships with industry; providing student support services; creating new degree programs closely tied to the needs of employers; and increasing graduation and postcollege employment rates.
However, we found no specific language in the bill that addresses students taking AP or college-level courses at community colleges. So we are rating this promise Stalled.
THOMAS, Text of Title V. of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 (H.R.3221), accessed Jan. 5, 2009
Interview with David Baime, vice president for government relations at the American Association of Community Colleges, Jan. 4, 2010
Internet and Nexis searches that produced no results.