The Benefits of Attending Community College: A Review of the Evidence

By: Clive Belfield & Thomas Bailey | Community College Review, 39(1), 46–68 | 2011

This article reviews the existing literature on the economic and other benefits of attending community college. First, the article reports on the earnings gains across all students and reviews the evidence for subgroups by gender, minority status, and credits accumulated. The article then reviews the methodological challenges associated with calculating earnings gains from attending a community college. Despite these challenges, the evidence for the significant earnings gains from community college attendance appears to be compelling. The second part of the article reviews the literature on a broader spectrum of gains, such as health, crime, and welfare reliance. This literature is very limited and potentially offers an important area for further research to establish the full returns from community college attendance.

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