What Is A Community College?
First, just what is a community college and why should they be on your radar when it comes to getting an education.
A community college is a public institution of higher education that provides undergraduate education. People often think that they are only for those seeking two year degrees but this is not the case.
Community colleges are two-year institutions that offer two years of general education courses. This is true, but they are also a jumping off point for people looking to get a four year degree. The two years of education that a community college offers is the same education that a major university would offer.
So why should you consider a community college then if it is the same education you get at a larger school? Simple, a community college is much cheaper. It can dramatically cut the cost of your overall education. Savings come in a number of areas such as cheaper tuition, cheaper books and the ability to save on housing by living at home.
How Does a Community College Work?
Community colleges are often the first step for students who want to get their foot in the door of higher education. There are a wide variety of courses and programs offered at community colleges and they offer a more affordable option than traditional universities.
Community colleges offer two-year degrees, certificates, and training programs that can lead to careers in a variety of fields. They also provide opportunities for students who may not be able to immediately afford the high cost of a major four year university or that want to reduce their student loan debt.
The education that you receive at a community college is the same as what you would receive at a major school with a couple of exceptions. First, the cost would be significantly cheaper and second, class sizes are usually much smaller. This has the added benefit of helping students transition from High School life to College life.
What Is The Cost Of Attending A Community College?
Like everything else in this country, your prices will vary by region. but, in general, community college is a great option for students who are looking for a more affordable way to get their degree. Community colleges offer tuition rates starting at around 3000 dollars per year. If you have priced out four year school prices, even at state schools, this is a significant savings.
For your total savings, you have to look beyond just the tuition savings however. Another great benefit is the ability to stay at home and avoid student housing. With housing costs continually rising, this can easily save a student 10,000 dollars a year or more. Plus, living at home can make that first year of college a lot less stressful. While some kids thrive on college life away from home, others might need a slower transition.
Books should also be a consideration when deciding on community college. Textbooks are generally less expensive and community schools are less likely to change editions every year. This means that more used books are available for even greater savings.
What Are The Best Ways to Save Money On Your Student Loans?
Even with the reduced cost of community college, a student loan is likely in the plans for most students. Student loans are one of the most common types of debt that people find themselves in. They are a necessity for higher education, but many students find themselves struggling to make ends meet with their monthly payments.
This is where it pay to know a bit about the system and how to lower costs.
One of the best way for students to save money on their student loans after college is to apply for income-driven repayment plans. With these plans, the amount you pay each month is based on your income and family size. There are also other options such as deferment and forbearance that can help you manage your payments until you achieve steady employment.
Student loan repayment plans can be tricky, so it’s important to understand all of the options available and get advice from a professional before deciding what’s best for you. For more information, consult your financial aid department.
In conclusion, going to a community college is not a bad idea. It is important that you consider this option before you make a decision.
Obviously, the biggest downside is that a student may not feel like they are getting the true “college experience” by going to a community school. There is no moving away, no living at the dorm, etc. This might be a downside for some but it might be a good thing for others that are nervous about making the transition. Keep in mind that thousands of kids every year flunk out of their first year because they are unable to make the shift to college.
If you look at the big picture, missing the “college experience” is a solid tradeoff for the benefits you get from starting college at a community school. Less debt, less stress and a brighter financial future. If you are struggling to find the money you need to pay for school, community college should be on your radar.