A new method for funding community colleges could position two-year, public institutions as major players in training students on skills employers say are missing in the state’s labor force.

A historic $683 million investment in community colleges rewards schools for getting students to complete a degree or certificate, transfer to a four-year university, or participate in college courses as early as high school, under House Bill 8.

The bill passed nearly unanimously in contrast to other bills that surrounded other higher education bills over professor tenure, diversity, equity, and inclusion offices.

Supporters of the new funding formula think it will help new community college students and the state economy because a growing number of high-demand, self-sustaining jobs in Texas, require more than a high school diploma.