Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Report: Financial Pressure Swamping Community College Students

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Report: Financial Pressure Swamping Community College Students

Article excerpt

Too many students struggle to make it through community college in a timely fashion, with many citing a lack of resources as the primary reason for the length of time it takes them to complete a degree or their reason for dropping out. The constraints of financial need limit not only students' ability to complete a degree, but also their visions for the future, according to a report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE).

Community colleges are touted as some of the most affordable institutions of higher education available. Tuition costs fluctuate from state to state, but the sticker price ranges no higher than $8,000 at most.

In California, a year of tuition at one of the states 113 community colleges costs as little as $1,429, while at the opposite end of the spectrum, a year at a Vermont community college costs $7,740. By comparison, one year at a four-year, public school in Vermont costs $15,446. Other states, such as Tennessee and Oregon, have implemented "free" community college programs for certain students.

As a result of their relative affordability and the flexibility that they offer students, community colleges attract and serve many students who tend to fall on the lower end of the income spectrum. The CCCSE report, which surveyed nearly 100,000 community college students attending 177 institutions across the country, illustrates the challenges that community college students face in their pursuit of a degree. Despite relatively low costs, the report found that nearly half of all students said they were considering dropping out due to financial pressures.

"We spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about how to help students succeed academically, but if we don't also think about how to prevent this mindset of struggling financially, then we will continue to see students walk away from our institutions and not complete," says CCCSE executive director Dr. …

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