The cost of college is a hot topic in the public conversation right now. With costs rising every year, with seemingly no end in sight, students and their families turn to money-saving tips and tricks to make college more affordable. One great trick? Attending community colleges. Community college fees are typically significantly lower than that of any private college—or public colleges, for that matter. So how much does community college cost?
Let’s break it down.
The Average Cost of Community College
Time for some stats and math.
According to the NCES, the average cost of a 2-year community college (including tuition, fees, room & board) in 2016–17 was $10,655 per year. Compare that to the average cost of a public 4-year in-state college, which was $17,987 per year.
That’s a difference of $7,332 in savings every year.
Saving Money on a Bachelor’s Degree
Let’s take it a step further. How much (on average) would it cost to attend that public in-state college for all four years? Approximately $71,948. That’s nearly $72k for a bachelor’s degree. (And keep in mind, the cost tends to rise each year, so it’s likely higher than that.)
But what if you went to a community college first? Two years at a community college, then transfer for another two years at that public in-state college? That cost would look more like $57,284. Which is an average saving of $14,664 for a bachelor’s degree! That is a significant amount of savings.
More and more students are participating in 2+2 Programs—earning an associate’s degree, then transferring to a college/university for another 2 years and earning a bachelor’s degree. Students can take care of their general education courses at a community college, then focus on their major classes once they transfer to a different college/university. It’s a great way to save money on tuition costs.
It’s More Than Just Tuition
Students who attend community college save much more than just the cost of tuition. Most students live at home with their parents, saving hundreds of dollars every month on rent and utilities. This can add up to a few thousands over a period of two years. Especially if students are working part time.
Questions to Ask Yourself About Community College
Wondering if community college is right for you? Ask yourself some of these questions:
- Do you prefer smaller class sizes?
- Do you want to stay close to home?
- Is saving money worth the effort of transferring?
- Will your credits transfer between your community college and intended transfer college?
- Does your intended major have stringent class requirements you may not be able to complete in two years at your transfer college?
- Have you toured the community colleges near you? Did you like them?
- Have you spoken with your high school counselor about community college options?
Is Community College Right for You?
There are a lot of myths surrounding community colleges. “They’re not as quality.” “They won’t give you good connections.” But they’re just myths. Sure, there are pros and cons as with any decision. However, for many, the benefits of significant savings are worth it.
While community college and living at home may not sound like the most exciting option, you’ll be relieved you chose this path when you graduate and are not burdened under a mountain of debt like your peers.
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