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Community Colleges Across The Country Are Turning Applicants Away In Wake Of State Budget Cuts

In the UK, the politicians cut education funding, the high school kids saw their future slipping away and took to the streets. Meanwhile, in the United States, people sit and wait quietly for crumbs to fall from the banquet table of the bankers.

In the UK, the politicians cut education funding, the high school kids saw their future slipping away and took to the streets. Meanwhile, in the United States, people sit and wait quietly for crumbs to fall from the banquet table of the bankers. What is wrong with this picture?

LAS VEGAS - The gambling economy here has crapped out, but at the swelling community college, workers are in the grip of new aspirations.

In one small anatomy lab, there's a craps dealer training to become an anesthetist, a cocktail waitress who wants to be a dental hygienist, and a former stripper seeking to become a nurse.

"People are always going to be going to the dentist," explained Misty Stevenson, 36, the aspiring hygienist, a mother of three and a cocktail waitress for 16 years, explaining her career choice after her income plunged during the downturn.

The trouble is getting a seat in class.

All over the United States, community college enrollments have surged with unemployed and underemployed people seeking new skills.

But just as workers have turned to community colleges, states have cut their budgets, forcing the institutions to turn away legions of students and stymieing the efforts to retrain the workforce.

[...] Even as community college enrollments have climbed during the recession, 35 states cut higher education budgets last year, and 31 will cut them for next, according to survey data from the National Association of State Budget Officers. Those shortages are expected to worsen next year when federal stimulus money that had plugged holes in state budgets is no longer available.

In California, with a budget cut of 8 percent across the board, the community colleges turned away 140,000 students last year. In Colorado, the waiting lists for nursing programs at some of the state's community colleges have grown to as long as 3.5 years. In May, New York's community colleges stopped accepting applications for the fall semester and added students instead to a wait list.

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