How could investing in regional colleges help communities?

by Jeremy

Often falling on the have-not side are regional colleges, loosely defined as four-year public schools that aren’t flagship or research institutions. Though regional colleges outnumber their flagship counterparts, they generally serve higher shares of disadvantaged students while receiving less in state and federal support.

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A new report from the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, argues this should change. Its authors developed a proposal for regional schools specifically in economically challenged areas.

They say the federal government could designate these colleges “distressed-community-serving institutions” and give them grants worth between $25 million and $50 million, paid out over five years. The report identifies more than 140 four-year institutions in the U.S. and Puerto Rico as candidates for the funding.

With the grant money, these schools could invest in digital infrastructure such as broadband. They could “improve university and community capacity to address regional public health or economic challenges,” the report states. Or they could help scale up business development.

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