Giving Compass' Take:

· Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago, Juan Salgado, discusses the importance of equal and affordable access to higher education and explains that community colleges provide the unique opportunity for students to earn a degree and follow a path to wealth.

· How do community colleges break barriers and allow for all students to succeed? How are work-based learning opportunities helping students gain experience and prepare for their future?

· Here's how community colleges can support the success of Latino students.

Everyone in our country – no matter where they started in life – deserves the chance to contribute their talents to the economy and their community, deserves the opportunity to earn an income that supports a family, deserves to save and build wealth.

Now more than ever, the key to realizing our abundant potential is a post-secondary education. And it is incumbent upon us – those of us who are leaders in higher education – to ensure our students are set on a path not only to a degree, but to build wealth.

While college credentials have real economic value, they increasingly come with a daunting cost that saddles students with debt for decades. Earning an associate degree, for instance, equates to an additional $400,000 in earnings over a lifetime compared to earning a high school diploma. A bachelor’s degree equates to nearly $1 million more over a lifetime. At the same time, the average college student earning a bachelor’s degree accumulates about $30,000 in debt, while their parents take on another $33,000 in federal loans.

To ultimately create a more equal society, a society that offers a promise of upward mobility to people across the economic and ethnic spectrum, we must ensure everyone in our country can access a quality, affordable college education.

Read the full article about expanding Latino potential by Juan Salgado at The Aspen Institute.