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What's Got MDC Buzzing?

What's Got MDC Buzzing?

This week, Atlantic Cities’ Sophie Quinton profiled North Carolina’s Latino Community Credit Union, applauding the partnerships and outreach that enable LCCU to provide banking services to more the 54,000 members, many of them immigrants. LCCU has $112 million in assets and 10 branches throughout the state; a partnership with the State Employees’ Credit Union means they can offer additional financial products and services to a population that many financial institutions see as too risky. However, as Quinton reports, LCCU “is one of the fastest-growing and most financially stable credit unions in the country, with a delinquency rate lower than those of its peers.” It’s just another example of how equity is good economics!

Usually when we talk completion agenda, we also talk about the importance of earning a “postsecondary credential.” That’s supposed to capture a variety of certificates and degrees that one could earn after high school—from an HVAC certificate at a community college to an associate’s degree to an MBA. But usually “postsecondary credential” gets conflated with “bachelors degree” and that’s definitely where the bulk of financial aid eligibility goes. It’s a question of credit (bachelor’s and associate’s) vs. noncredit (certificates and certifications). But some of those noncredit options can lead to significant earnings and quality jobs--even without a subsequent credit degree. In a New York Times’ Continuing Education special section, Steven Greenhouse breaks down a recent report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce whose findings show that individuals “with certificates earn 20 percent more on average than someone with just a high school degree,” and in some case, more than some with associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. Greenhouse notes that while an increasing number of jobs require some postsecondary training and study, employers are offering less and less of that training—and expecting potential hires to find a way to get it on their own. Often, that means certificate programs at community colleges, but there is very little Federal financial aid available for these largely noncredit programs. Foundation execs and community college presidents interviewed by Greenhouse recommend more flexible Federal financial aid and an expanded Pell program that could help institutions align better with industry need and student interest. Sounds like a win-win!

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