By staff writer

February 2019

Student debt and the growing cost of education are topics of discussion across the country. In the Greater Philadelphia region, these concerns affect the hundreds of thousands of students who pursue their education in the City of Brotherly Love and its surrounding suburbs. Students and parents alike are looking for ways to minimize debt while maximizing education and experience. At the same time, colleges and universities are looking for ways to cut costs and increase enrollment while continuing to support the local economy.

Many students are choosing to attend community college, either to pursue an associate’s degree or to begin their education at a lower cost before transferring to a four-year institution. While community college once held a stigma, that perception is quickly shifting as more and more students recognize the value of the programs offered at these institutions. Montgomery County Community College (MCCC), located in Blue Bell in Montgomery County, PA, has been educating students since 1964. It has an enrollment of almost 13,000 students seeking education in programs like business, health, engineering, social services and more.

“One of the areas we are focusing on is workforce development to address the needs of the businesses in Montgomery County, as well as surrounding counties,” Dr. Kevin Pollock, president of MCCC, told Invest: Philadelphia when he sat down with our team. “We work closely with employers to develop customized training programs that have value in the workplace today and in the future. Through our training programs, businesses gain a skilled, knowledgeable workforce and a competitive advantage in the workplace.”

With a tuition that comes in significantly lower than many of the surrounding options, especially for in-county students, MCCC proves to be a smart economic choice for students of all ages and backgrounds. The college has programs for every type of student, from those looking to continue their educations to high schools students looking to get a jumpstart on their postsecondary degrees.

“We offer dual enrollment for high school students.” Pollock told Invest:. “This program allows high school students to earn college credits while still in high school. Students are able to challenge themselves with college-level courses and gain credits that can then be used toward completion of their associate’s degree here or transferred to a four-year institution.”

As education costs continue to grow, community colleges in the area are standing out for their lower price tags and exceptional programming. Whether a student wants to immediately enter the workforce or seamlessly transfer into a four-year institution, Montgomery County Community College is paving the way for students to meet their goals.

And that’s not the only benefit MCCC provides to the community; it is also a significant economic driver for the county. According to a recent study, MCCC students earn $6 more per hour for every dollar they invest in their education. From 2009 to 2010, these higher earnings and the related increased business output contributed an additional $362.4 million to the regional economy. Taxpayers also see a 7.2 percent return on their investment in MCCC.

Rising costs and accessibility will continue to pose challenges to higher education across the country, but community colleges are stepping in to provide cost-effective and quality alternatives to students while also serving as important economic engines for their local economies.

For more information on our interviewee, visit https://www.mc3.edu/.