What defines a community college?
The word community plays an important role, and it means exactly what it says. Though community colleges have a lot in common with other higher education institutions, there are a few key characteristics that set us apart.
- We were created by a vote of the community
- We are local political subdivisions – not arms of state government
- We're partially funded by local property taxes along with tuition and state and federal funding
- We grant associate degrees and certificates and specialize in workforce development and technical education
- We're open access, meaning we accept every student regardless of their college readiness
- We serve the educational, workforce and economic needs of defined regions across the state
Local entities with statewide impact
Unlike in some states, Missouri's community colleges are not a “system” with a centralized administration under one governing body. Rather, our institutions are 12 separate and independent local colleges with a history of working together to meet both state and local needs.
In 1993, MCCA recommended to the Coordinating Board of Higher Education that Missouri be divided into community college service regions covering the entire state. As local entities, each college’s academic and workforce training programs mirror the local economy by design – a network that allows community colleges to serve every Missouri citizen and every Missouri business.
With more than 210,000 students across the state, Missouri’s community colleges provide an accessible path to education for those might not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue a degree or certification. Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college – they juggle full or part-time jobs all while taking care of their families at home. Flexible and innovative, our colleges meet students of all backgrounds where they are.