The economic recession continues to drag on in the United States. Unemployment stands at 8.6% and many families are feeling the effects. College tuition is rising much faster than inflation. Parents are having a tough time footing the bill for expensive colleges. And kids are struggling to find employment and loans are becoming an issue. This is where community college comes in. While these schools can’t offer the “4-year college experience” or “the best 4 years of your life,” they do offer a great alternative. They are hidden gems when it comes to saving money on the college experience. Going for 2 years to a community college, followed by 2 years elsewhere, will put you in the same position as anyone after graduation.
Tuition is Still Increasing
Tuition for 4-year public universities is up 8.3 percent from last year. At the same time, 4-year private schools have seen a 4.5 percent increase. The demand is so high that colleges are able to successfully increase their tuition rates. Want a way to save money in college? Pick a different school. Taking the average tuition rates for schools across the country you will:
- Save over $5,000 per year choosing a community college over a 4-year public school
- Save over $25,000 choosing the same school over a 4-year private school.
This means savings of over $50,000 for 2 years at a community college instead of a private school. This will leave you in a better situation to achieve your future financial goals.
College graduates are having a tough time finding employment after graduation. All of the available jobs are going to those with higher qualifications. Many who take the 4 year college route are finding themselves with loans after graduation. The average amount of loans a student leaves school with is around $25,000. Most loans have a grace period before payments start after graduation, but that usually only lasts 6 months. Can’t find a job within 6 months? Sorry, you are out of luck. With lower tuition, community college will leave you with far less loans. Going to a community college can ease the loan burden, giving you peace of mind in a tough economy.
Reduced Cost of Living
Average room and board for 4 year colleges is near $8,700 per year. This is another place where community colleges can be money savers. If you live near a 2 year school, you can save that room and board money for tuition for your next school by living at home. Living at home isn’t glamorous by any means, but many parents would agree saving more than $15,000 over two years is worth the cost of you sticking around. When you move out for good, your wallet will agree as well.
Many kids struggle to apply themselves in high school and thus have a small number of options for college. If you or your child falls in this category, community college can be helpful. Taking 2 years to focus on studies and get grades up can ensure acceptance into the next school. Taking a couple more years to show you are ready to take the next step will impress 4 year colleges. If you want more options, then enroll in a community college and work hard, because the move will pay off later.
What it All Means
Community college isn’t for everyone, but it might be the best option for those looking for a way to save money and open up more opportunities. With the economy showing no signs of turning around soon, look closely at community college before you rule it out. This single decision could end up paving the way for a solid financial future.