2-year degree raises career pay by $259K

Earning an associate degree raises career-long earnings by $259,000 compared to a high school graduate’s earnings, a new study estimates. However, some community colleges provide much more return on investment than others.

Credit creep raises community college costs

Credit creep is making it harder for community college students to complete an associate degree. Instead of 60 credits, many degrees require 70 credits or more. That  costs students time and money and lowers the odds they’ll earn a degree.

After two years at community college, transfers to four-year institutions are just as likely to earn a bachelor’s degree as similar students who started at the four-year college or university, an Illinois study finds.

Technical certificates, degrees pay off in Texas

Texans who earn a technical certificate or associate degree often earn more than four-year graduates in their first year in the workforce, concludes a new study. Some workers with certificates in health-care fields start at more than $70,000 – $30,000 more than the median for graduates with bachelor’s degrees.

2-year tech degrees offer middle-class pay

Associate degree graduates in technical fields earn more than the average four-year graduate in three states — and they paid a lot less for their education.

Top job with 2-year degree: air traffic controller

The top-paying jobs requiring an associate degree are air traffic controller (median pay of $108,040), construction manager ($83,860) and radiation therapist ($74,980). Jobs requiring a two-year degree are growing rapidly, lead by health care jobs.

To lead in degrees, focus on two-year credentials

If the U.S. is to lead the world in college graduates — President Obama’s goal — it must focus on two-year credentials, concludes a new report.  The U.S. is second in the world to Norway  in adults with a bachelor’s degree (35 percent), but far fewer U.S. adults have earned an associate degree (10 percent).

A credit here, a credit there

Assembling credits from a variety of online courses, one man earned an associate degree from an accredited college for a total cost of $3,000. Courses ranged from art appreciation, music appreciation, macroeconomics and accounting to a series of Federal Emergency Management Agency courses, including Livestock in Disasters. Just a wee bit incoherent?

Also on Community College SpotlightSmoothing the rocky road to higher education.

After university, community college

Unemployed college graduates are heading to community colleges for associate degrees in nursing, medical technology, information technology and other high-demand fields.

In California, a record number of recent four-year graduates are working in food service, retail and clerical jobs.

Tennessee: 2-year degree pays off

New associate-degree graduates in Tennessee average higher earnings than four-year graduates. Health care, construction and technology are top-earning fields for two-year graduates.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Community colleges will get $500 million in federal grants to fund job training.

Chicago plans six-year tech high schools

Chicago will open five new six-year high schools that will let students complete “grade 14″ with an associate degree and high-tech job skills. IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions and Verizon will develop curricula, mentor students, provide summer internships and guarantee a “first-in-line” job interview after graduation.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Dual enrollment classes let a wide range of students — not just high achievers — earn college and high school credits at the same time. Does it raise the odds of college success?