Recent posts here have pointed to well-intended donor generosity with unintended consequences for the most vulnerable among us. Again, I encourage readers who care about higher education for America’s least financially stable students to listen to Malcolm Gladwell’s powerful podcast on the subject.

Fortunately, some individuals and institutions ARE donating money that benefits many nontraditional students and the colleges that serve them, as this Hallie Busta piece shows.

That’s great news, but the need outstrips the money coming in. A link within the above story lets you read another informative Hallie Busta Education Dive article about the need. The trend is clear. We have been underfunding educational resources for our least economically secure students for a long time, and it will take a conscious effort to right things. “The cost is steep, however: $22 billion per year. Still, the researchers say that’s what’s needed to close the per-student funding gap between community colleges ($11,400) and public four-year institutions ($14,900).”

Here’s a thought for readers accustomed to supporting their alma mater. Give half of your normal contribution to your old school. And put the other half where your money will help nearby nontraditional students. The folks at your neighborhood community college will be glad to tell you about funds that will help first-generation community college students right where you live.


Ned Bachus is the author of Open Admissions: What Teaching at Community College Taught Me About Learning (Wild River Books, 2017) and of the “Turning Points” weekly blog on City of Brotherly Love (Fleur-de-Lis Books), his book of stories, was awarded the 2013 IPPY Gold Medal for Literary Fiction.