Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas — (WHARTON) — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar is rebooting his Good for Texas Tour by highlighting Texas community colleges’ important impact on the Texas economy as well as their role in meeting specific educational and vocational needs of the areas they serve. Today, Hegar is visiting Wharton County Junior College, which has notable automotive, nuclear power technology, process technology, manufacturing technology and business programs.
“When I graduated from high school, I wasn’t quite ready to leave home, but I was ready to begin this journey called life – so I attended a community college,” Hegar said. “That first step into higher education paved the way for everything else, including my decision to become a lawyer and the honor of representing Texans in public office. These institutions strategically tackle workforce needs and provide a more affordable option for parents and students seeking higher education and job training opportunities.”
During his Good for Texas Tour: Community College Edition, Hegar is sharing the results of a study the Comptroller's office recently completed examining Texas community colleges’ impact on their communities and the Texas economy. He is touring college campuses and meeting with students, faculty and community members to highlight these institutions, which provide students with valuable training and classroom instruction to prepare for further education or to join the Texas workforce.
Texas’ 50 community college districts enrolled about 700,000 students in 2017, which is about 46 percent of all Texas higher education students. The college districts contributed $9.8 billion to the state’s economy and supported 77,738 jobs.
Community colleges are much more affordable than other higher education options. During the 2017-18 school year, Texas’ community colleges had the nation’s fourth-lowest tuition and fees per year ($2,209), behind only California, New Mexico and Arizona. Community colleges also provide students with a good return on investment.
Texas workers with some college or with associate degrees who have stable jobs earn $8,300 more annually than high school graduates. Those higher wages add an additional $27.2 billion in direct compensation to the state economy each year.
Wharton County Junior College (WCJC) has campuses in Wharton, Bay City, Richmond and Sugar Land. Its service area includes Wharton, Matagorda and Colorado counties, along with parts of Fort Bend, Jackson and Austin counties. There were 6,768 students enrolled at WCJC in the 2017-18 school year, and average annual tuition and fees totaled $3,110.
The college’s nuclear power technology, process technology and manufacturing technology programs provide students with high-tech training and instruction in the classroom and in labs to meet technology needs. Automotive technology and business office technology programs also are popular. In all, WCJC has more than 40 high-demand associate degree and certificate programs.
For more information on the tour, including photos, videos and in-depth data on Texas’ community colleges, visit the Comptroller’s website.