|Community college: A stepping stone
to higher-education savings
It's a good time to give a local
community college another look.
Thanks to skyrocketing costs of
private and public universities, many families are finding their
college funds won't be enough. With low
costs, small classes and easy-to-transfer credits, a community college
may be the solution cash-crunched families are looking for.
"Price has always been a selling
point for us," says Norma Kent, director of communications
for the American Association of Community Colleges. "It's a
very affordable way to go."
Let's look at some numbers. The
average cost for a full-year of tuition and fees at a community
college is just $2,076, compared to $5,100 at a public, four-year
university and $20,081 at a private, four-year university, according
to the College Board.
with college credit transfers
Attending a community college for two years and transferring to
a four-year college or university could save you a bundle in tuition
Let's say you live in Philadelphia.
By attending the Community College of Philadelphia for two years
and then transferring to Temple University, you'd save more than
$9,200 in tuition costs.
Thanks to an articulation agreement
between the two schools, a transfer student with a 3.65 grade point
average or higher will receive a $2,000 merit scholarship to Temple.
A transfer student with a 3.0-to-3.64 GPA will receive a $1,000
An articulation agreement specifies
which community college course credits will be accepted toward a
bachelor's degree at the four-year college or university. It also
outlines scholarship requirements and specifies what kind of grades
a student must achieve to transfer to the four-year school as a
Articulation agreements between
two-year and four-year colleges are quite common. The Community
College of Philadelphia has articulation agreements with most four-year
colleges and universities in its region.
"We can really guarantee that
you'll enter as a junior and your credits will transfer," says
Kimberly Iapalucci, director of public relations at the Community
College of Philadelphia. "We call it a seamless transition."
Students at four-year schools can
nudge down education costs by heading home and taking summer classes
at a local community college.
Every credit earned at a low-cost
community college can save you hundreds of dollars in tuition. And
by bunking at your parent's house, you could knock down your room-and-board
charges to zero.
A full summer class schedule at
a community college could shave thousands of dollars off your university
bill. Credits from most community college classes will transfer
to a four-year school without a hitch, but be sure to check before
Attending a community college also
makes a lot of sense for students with uncertain career goals. Why
shell out thousands of dollars in university tuition if you have
no idea what you want to do?
"The benefit of a community
college is we're low cost, and you can afford to play around a bit.
You can explore," says Betty Davis, assistant dean of financial
aid at Community College of Allegheny in Pennsylvania. "It's
a good place to start."
Why not start in high school?
And you don't have to be a college student to cash in on community
college classes. Many community colleges offer courses to high school
juniors and seniors. With dual-enrollment classes, teens earn high
school and college credits at the same time.
Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville,
Fla., has been offering a dual-enrollment program to area high school
students since 1974. Eligible high students attend classes at the
college for free. Course textbooks are loaned to the students free
"This is like a two-year scholarship,"
says Linda Lanza-Kaduce, director of the high school dual-enrollment
program at SFCC. "It's a big deal -- especially in these hard
times with people not feeling as rich as they did a few years ago."
of people who feel fed up with the working world head to community
colleges to re-group and re-train. Laid-off workers and those fearing
layoffs are flocking to community colleges in search of new skills
and training. Many will like what they find.