Community colleges are becoming lifesavers to students seeking a degree but unable to pay the skyrocketing costs of four-year colleges. Yet community colleges are struggling to cope with increased enrollment as their budgets are slashed by debt-laden states.
About 8 million students were enrolled in for-credit classes at the nation's 1,173 community colleges last fall, up from about 5.5 million a decade earlier. Junior colleges have seen an influx of younger students looking for a way around skyrocketing tuition costs at four-year schools and older students looking to get retrained after a recession that has wiped out millions of jobs.
But there are signs that the system is being pushed to the breaking point.