Pennsylvania’s community college system ranks dead last among the 42 states with at least two community colleges statewide, according to a new survey released by Wallethub.
Eight states that do not have at least two community colleges were not ranked by Wallethub. Those states are Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont.
The state of Washington is No. 1 in the Wallethub rankings, while South Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado, and Arkansas round out the top five.
To compile its rankings, Wallethub calculated a weighted average of the scores earned by the community colleges in each state and the number of students enrolled in each school. The state with the highest average corresponds with a rank of No. 1, or the best community-college system.
Wallethub also took into account only the states that had at least two community colleges present in its sample of the Best & Worst Community Colleges in order to ensure comparability of results.
University education is out of reach for many Americans, especially those from low-income households. But thanks to community colleges, higher education is more accessible than ever. Compared with public four-year institutions, where tuition and fees cost almost three times as much on average, community colleges offer many savings for students.
Some states make community college even more accessible than usual. Multiple states and numerous cities across the U.S. have started “College Promise” programs that give residents free rides to community college. New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Tennessee are some of the states that have joined so far. Such initiatives are proving to be more critical than ever, with college tuition increases outpacing inflation and the need for post-secondary training in most jobs protected to grow through 2020.