In an era where higher education is getting more expensive, Mott Community College in Flint has become a melting pot of high school grads, non-traditional students, and displaced workers.
Enrollment has ballooned. Today the campus is home to about 12,000 students, an increase of 500 students per year, since 2008.
"Everyone loves community colleges. Nobody wants to come up with any money,â?? said Michael Kelley, media relations director for Mott.
Money is a big reason students come to Mott. It remains one of the most affordable schools in the state - one year of tuition costs roughly $3,000. Kelly says in hard times, people become more practical - education becomes a means to get a job.
â??Itâ??s putting food on the table, it's paying the rent, it's getting gas in the car, and when you get that situation where it becomes practical, community colleges have always been the most practical part of higher-ed."
Affordability and a high job placement rate is what brings a lot of students back to school.
"There's a lot offered at this community college. It's just a 2-year program, sometimes that's all you need to get your foot in the door,â?? said Mary Hoover, who returned to school to get a nursing degree.
But while President Barack Obama's nod to community colleges in Tuesdayâ??s State of the Union address means they're doing something right, local educators say they need more funding from the federal and state government to keep going.