Community College Publications and Resources

TICAS' community college work seeks to maximize the effectiveness of financial aid and student services at two-year institutions, with a particular focus on the 2.5 million students at California's community colleges. Click here for our California-specific work.

Aiding Success: The Role of Federal and State Financial Aid in Supporting California Community College Students
February 15, 2017 - Released by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and TICAS in collaboration with the California Community Colleges’ Chancellors Office (CCCCO), this report takes a unique look at federal and state financial aid, academic preparation, and college transfer and completion for students across California’s 113 community colleges.

States of Denial: Where Community College Students Lack Access to Federal Student Loans
June 29, 2016 - Nearly one million community college students across the nation are denied access to federal student loans, the safest and most affordable way to borrow for college, because their school chooses not to offer them. Our report includes national and state-by-state analyses of loan access by race/ethnicity and urban/non-urban status in 2015-16, and explores notable trends in California, North Carolina, and Louisiana.

On the Verge: Costs and Tradeoffs Facing Community College Students
April 13, 2016 - This report documents California community college students’ struggles to cover college expenses beyond tuition, their experiences with financial aid, and the troubling tradeoffs they face when available resources do not stretch far enough. Consistent with a growing body of national research showing that students’ ability to pay for non-tuition costs is central to their academic progress and success, the report includes results and personal stories from TICAS’ survey of thousands of California students, as well as key facts about community college students’ costs, aid, and outcomes both nationally and in California.

Statement on White House Plan to Make Two Years of College as Universal as High School
January 9, 2015 - The recently announced White House plan elevates the universal need for some post-secondary education in today's economy and the need to make college affordability a national priority. The White House plan differs significantly from Tennessee's and other "free community college" plans and addresses many, but not all, of those plans' limitations.

Why "Free Community College" is a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
January 9, 2015 - Blog post on the "America's College Promise." Details of the White House plan are becoming available and make clear it differs significantly from the Tennessee Promise and other "free community college" plans. In particular, the White House proposal is not a "last-dollar" scholarship. Instead, it provides additional federal funding to states that make key reforms, including not charging tuition or fees at community colleges. It is aimed squarely at stopping state disinvestment in public colleges, which is crucial to making college more affordable.

Protecting Colleges and Students: Community College Strategies to Prevent Default
July 22, 2014 - Protecting Colleges and Students, released by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), takes a unique look at student loan default at nine community colleges across the nation, and how those colleges are working to help students avoid default.

At What Cost? How Community Colleges that Do Not Offer Federal Loans Put Students at Risk
July 15, 2014 - In 2013-14, nearly one million community college students across the nation were denied access to federal student loans, the safest and most affordable way to borrow for college. Our report includes national and state-by-state analyses of loan access by race/ethnicity and urbanicity, and takes an in-depth look at North Carolina, California, and Georgia.

Data Show No Evidence of "Over-Borrowing" at Community Colleges

June 12, 2014 - Some community colleges have expressed concerns that their students borrow more than they need in federal loans. However, the data do not support claims of "over-borrowing" at community colleges. The vast majority of community college students do not borrow federal loans at all, and the few who do borrow do not take out large loan amounts.

Knowing is half the battle

April 2, 2014 - Blog post reviews the recent letter from the U.S. Department of Education addressing the participation rate index appeal for low-borrowing colleges, with TICAS urging the Department to publish borrowing rates alongside default rates and allow low-borrowing colleges to appeal their rates in any year.

TICAS Participation Rate Index (PRI) Worksheet
September 28, 2012 - This tool helps colleges with low borrowing rates understand whether they may qualify to appeal CDR sanctions.

Letter to Martha Kanter on Borrowing Rates for Upcoming Cohort Default Rate Release
August 20, 2012 - Letter to U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter with recommendations on how provide context for cohort default rates (CDRs) to consumers, journalists, and colleges for the for the upcoming release of two-year CDRs for fiscal year 2010 (FY10) and three-year CDRs for fiscal year 2009 (FY09).

Still Denied: How Community Colleges Shortchange Students by Not Offering Federal Loans
April 29, 2011 - Our issue brief found that more than one million community college students were denied access federal student loans, the safest and most affordable way to borrow for college.

Letter in Support of AB 970
March 12, 2011 - Letter in support of AB 970 (Fong), which would provide first-year tuition and fee benefits to Cal Grant B recipients.

After the FAFSA
July 26, 2010 - This report sheds light on what happens to federal financial aid applicants after they submit the FAFSA. Using 2007-08 financial aid data from 13 California community colleges, the Institute found that one in three likely Pell-eligible applicants did not receive a Pell Grant.

Financial Aid Facts at California Community Colleges
March 17, 2010 - Hundreds of thousands of California Community College (CCC) students are eligible for federal Pell Grants but do not apply, leaving up to $500 million unclaimed in 2009-10. This fact sheet compares CCC financial aid application rates to the rest of the country, and also examines the inadequacy of financial aid that some CCC students do receive.

Getting With the Program: Community College Students Need Access to Federal Loans
October 8, 2009 - Our issue brief examines the availability of federal student loans at community colleges, the concerns that lead colleges to opt out of the federal loan programs, and the effects these colleges' choices can have on students.

Joint Letter to CA Legislators to Save the Cal Grant Program
June 3, 2009 - The Institute one of seven California organizations that signed on to a letter to state legislators in protest of the proposed elimination of the Cal Grant program.

Governor Proposes Eliminating Cal Grants
May 28, 2009 - Blog post on the proposal to eliminate all new Cal Grants in the 2009-10 California state budget.

Quick Facts about Community Colleges and Financial Aid, 2007-08
May 13, 2009 - Our fact focuses on community college students who apply for financial aid and attend full-time: their need for aid compared to students at other types of colleges; how much aid they receive; and how they fill the gap when they don't get all the aid they need. See the press release.

Access to Financial Aid & Office Contact Information
October 10, 2008 - Blog post on the difficulty of navigating community colleges' financial aid websites.

Widen the Focus When Discussing Affordability
September 26, 2008 - The Institute submitted comments to the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) about their report on how affordable a community college education really is for students and their families.

Students Need Clarity on Cal Grants
June 24, 2008 - Blog post on the proposed cuts to the competitive Cal Grant program.

Denied: Community College Students Lack Access to Affordable Loans
April 17, 2008 - At least one million community college students lack access to federal loans, not because of the credit crunch, but because their schools don't participate in the federal loan programs. This pushes students who need to borrow to resort to risky private loans, payday loans, and credit cards, or to drop out or reduce their course load. Our brief also found significant gaps in loan access between different races and ethnicities. See press release and related materials.

Proposed Cal Grant Cuts Would Hit Community College Students Hardest
March 27, 2008 - This issue brief finds that Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposed budget for 2008-09 would  have eliminated new Cal Grant awards for 45 percent of community college students who would have received them, compared to 5 percent of would-be recipients at the University of California and 10 percent in the California State University system. Read the press release.

Green Lights & Red Tape: Improving Access to Financial Aid at California's Community Colleges
December 2007 - This major report finds wide variations in financial aid policies and practices at California's community colleges, which can have a major impact on students' access to available aid. Read the executive summary.