High Cost of Education Urges Students toward Community Colleges

Article excerpt

As college tuition continues to rise, many students say they're beginning their higher education at community colleges.

There, they can complete general education requirements at a fraction of the cost, and then transfer the credits to four-year institutions.

Student enrollment this fall beat expectations by more than 30 percent at Community College of Allegheny County, a school official said. The number of new students at Butler County Community College is up more than 30 percent, and more students than ever -- 3,877 -- are attending BC3 this fall, according to a spokeswoman.

"Our median age is 21. When I came 10 years ago, it was 27," BC3 spokeswoman Susan Changnon said. "Students are coming here to transfer."

At community colleges nationwide, enrollment increased by 10 percent from 2000 to 2006, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. During that period, the average cost of tuition at a four-year college jumped $4,000.

Evan Fritz, 19, of South Side said he was accepted elsewhere but chose to attend CCAC's North Side campus to save money. He said many of his professors teach at University of Pittsburgh or Carnegie Mellon University.

"I feel like I'm getting the same quality of education," said Fritz, who plans to transfer to Pitt next fall.

Fifty percent of families are limiting their child's college choices to less expensive options, according to recent survey conducted by ApplyWise.com, an online college admissions counseling program, and Next Step Magazine, a college and career planning magazine. …