4 Reasons Why a Community College is a Good Option

by AJ Pettersen · 3 comments

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.

Smaller Loans

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.

Boost Grades

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.

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  • Kate says:

    My No. 1 ambition was to get OUT of my community the instant I turned 18 and before the ink was dry on my diploma. I hated my high school and never wanted to see any of the people who attended it again…and I knew that my mother would not stop harping on me to get married if I were anywhere within earshot. I found a small liberal arts college in the South that was not expensive to attend, and that had a student body that was 85% from New York and New Jersey (hiding from the draft, mostly) which solved both of my problems. My belief is that a large percentage of one’s education for life involves getting away from home and family and learning to live in a diverse and rapidly changing world. And in my case, Not Getting Married, especially not to people who lived where I grew up. It is possible, I suppose, to resist the forces pulling you down into that rut while living “at home”, but in my case it was much more possible to avoid it when I was far, far away.

  • indio says:

    I think there is a bigger issue here that needs to be understood and should possibly be investigated by the government, though I prefer to keep the govt from meddling in most matters. How can colleges increase tuition costs faster than the cost of living? At large universities most of the classes are not being taught by professors, they are being taught by teacher’s assistants. The profs are busy writing and applying for grants to get paid a salary. So that big name institution is not providing a top quality education with highly paid educators. It is getting pickier about the students they accept to keep up the “image” that your child is getting a good education. Where is all of the money going that justifies these ridiculous annual tuition increases that have been leading to skyrocketing education costs?

  • Bryan at Pinch that Penny! says:

    This is all profoundly true. I was very fortunate in that all of my undergraduate schooling was paid for, and so I went straight to a private four year college. However, had I been on the hook for paying for my schooling, I hope that I would have been smart enough to choose a community college for the first two years.

    Even so, I think the big problem for many graduating high school seniors is that community college isn’t as glamorous (lack of party atmosphere, fraternities, etc) as heading straight off to a university. Although, if “glamour” is part of your consideration in where you are headed to college, you should probably rethink going to college at all.

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