According to the most recent U.S. Census, approximately 35 percent of Iowans have attained an associate degree or higher. Within the Iowa Valley Community College District service area (primarily Hardin, Marshall, Tama and Poweshiek Counties) that rate falls to 28 percent.
It seems like everyone is talking about college attainment. President Obama has set a goal for the country that in six short years the U.S. will "once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world." The National League of Cities is advising communities that "to be globally competitive and attractive to businesses and families alike, more residents must pursue and successfully obtain postsecondary degrees and credentials." And numerous non-profit organizations and foundations such as the Lumina Foundation are aggressively promoting higher education attainment rates within a decade that, if achieved, would result in doubling the Iowa Valley percentage of associate degree completers.
In order to assist with making college a reality to more of our local citizens, Marshalltown Community College was selected by the Iowa College Aid Commission as one of five partners to implement the "College Changes Everything" network. Along with Burlington, Council Bluffs, the Quad Cities, and Waterloo, MCC will receive an AmeriCorps VISTA member who will specifically work with the Marshalltown and Tama-Toledo communities to rally around the common agenda of college attainment.
Our goal at MCC is to develop community relationships that leverage resources to support an increase in citizens' access to college. College will become an accessible opportunity rather than an intimidating barrier. To accomplish this, we'll offer an enhanced awareness of financial aid sources and processes, an understanding of career programs and majors that will lead to high paying jobs and decreased poverty, and increased support connections at MCC to ensure each student's success.
We are honored to have been selected for this initiative and excited for the possibilities that it will bring to the Marshalltown and Tama-Toledo communities.