PASADENA ( — The Inland Empire is falling behind the rest of California when it comes to community college enrollment, according to a new report.

KNX 1070’s Megan Goldsby reports the data comes as state lawmakers are poised to approve a $155 million increase in community college funding for the first time since the recession.

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The “Higher Education for a Strong Economy” report (PDF) from the Oakland-based nonprofit California Competes found that the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino should receive 24,000 of the 40,000 new seats proposed by Governor Brown.

Nearly half of community college students who live in the territory of the nine-college Los Angeles district – 47 percent – actually attend surrounding colleges in communities such as Pasadena and Glendora. According to the report, those cities and other surrounding areas historically struggle with a combination of high unemployment rates and a relatively low number of adults with college degrees.

An estimated 30 percent of students enroll in a college outside of their own home district, complicating the question of how state lawmakers should allocate the funding, the study found.

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The report does not take into account enrollment at for-profit colleges, extensions operated by the UC and CSU systems, and other programs that offer programs similar to community colleges.

Robert Shireman, the executive director of California Competes, said Brown should focus funding on the Inland Empire region, which he said would still need another 16,000 seats in order to reach the state average.

“[Brown] has suggested that the money should be distributed with a priority for areas in the state that have unmet need,” said Shireman.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office decried the report, saying it could result in the aid becoming too focused on one area.

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With more than 2.1 million students on 112 campuses, the California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the United States, according to officials.