As higher education in America grows both more expensive and more necessary (as an entry fee to a middle class life), community colleges— the last affordable path into college— grow more important. But they're not getting any more well-funded. Quite the opposite!

More than 40% of U.S. college students are in community colleges. But a new report from The Century Foundation says that government funding for community colleges is lagging, which translates to poor resources for the students who are most in need. From the NYT:

In 2009, community colleges spent $9,300 per student on educational resources, virtually unchanged from 1999 once inflation was taken into account. Public research universities spent $16,700, up 11 percent from 1999, and private research universities spent $41,000, an increase of 31 percent.

The report says that only 12% of community college students enroll at a four-year university within six years. That translates to billions of dollars in student aid, wasted, along with a student debt load that people must repay without the benefit of a college degree. When state governments underfund community colleges (which tend to serve poorer students, and consequently tend to be unable to just crank up their tuitions to cover any funding needs), they contribute to the likelihood that students will never actually receive a degree. And that their education will suck. This, in turn, contributes to the overall cleaving of America into the college-credentialed "haves" and the uncredentialed "have nots." This, in turn, contributes to the likelihood of a revolution in which the headlesss bodies of the "haves" are hoisted atop flagpoles on the university "quad."

So we should try to fund community colleges more.

[NYT. Photo: David Schott/ Flickr]