Parents of community college students in the Alabama’s rural Black Belt region will soon be eligible for free community college tuition, according to a story by The Hechinger Report.
The $49.5 million initiative is targeting parents this year at six community colleges in Alabama’s rural Black Belt region and will roll out over the course of seven years. In addition to covering tuition, the program, which is funded by both federal and local sources, will provide financial aid to cover extra costs, tutoring, and counseling in the hopes of developing a more educated workforce. “The businesses have said, ‘You need to get some people who are qualified, or we may have to leave,’” said Veronique Zimmerman-Brown, director of the project, in the article. “This is a way for the community colleges to work with the industries that are moving in.”
Alabama has one of the highest rural adult unemployment rates in the nation, according to the Rural School and Community Trust. In the state’s Black Belt region, more than 25 percent of black residents live in poverty and less than 15 percent of adults have bachelor degrees.
Research shows that rural students are less likely to go to college than their non-rural peers, and some reports have suggested that a lack of parental education and a lack of resources are among the factors in rural areas that contribute to this.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.