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Serving Community Colleges

Perkins IV is the U.S. Department of Education's largest formula grant program for secondary and postsecondary career and technical education, providing approximately $1.1 billion annually to states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, Palau, and the Virgin Islands (collectively referred to as "states"). Of the Perkins funds that states distribute to their local recipients each year, roughly 40% of funds are awarded to community colleges.

The Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) provides leadership to the nation's nearly 1,200 community colleges, community college students, faculty, and administration through initiatives that strengthen the quality and excellence of community college programs, and by focusing on policy and practice that impact student success.

As open-access institutions, community colleges are critical entry points to higher education and economic opportunity for Americans, including:

  • Low-income students;
  • Working adults;
  • Ethnic minorities; and
  • New immigrants who have been traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education.

Community colleges are also leading providers of career and technical education and make important contributions to state and local economies by filling the need for highly skilled workers in today's high-demand jobs. With growing enrollment and increasingly diverse student bodies, community colleges are rapidly evolving to meet the tri-fold challenge of ensuring affordability, accessibility, and accountability for results.


  • Community Colleges Can: Institutions Sharing Success
    This project spotlighted innovative programs and practices that promote student retention and successful transitions to and from community colleges. Case studies were developed to illustrate approaches to dual enrollment, developmental education, articulation agreements, and student support services.
  • Community College Research Symposium
    Education leaders, researchers, and policymakers convened in June 2008 to discuss the major findings and implications of a series of commissioned papers on topics of critical importance in improving community colleges.
  • Ready for College: Adult Education Transitions Program
    Four grants were awarded to state and local education agencies to support efforts to improve transitions from Adult Secondary Education to community college for out-of-school youth.