Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Four Reasons Community Colleges Are on the Rise

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Four Reasons Community Colleges Are on the Rise

Article excerpt

Are four-year college degrees becoming passe?

According to a recent Gallup poll, two in three Americans rank a community college education as high as a four-year program. The one group that disagreed were Americans with post-college education, who were about 10 percent more likely to value a four-year degree over a two-year program.

Traditionally, students who attend community college education are driven primarily by price tag. "The only consistently affordable options that remain are community colleges," says Ben Miller, senior director for post-secondary education at the Center for American Progress.

In 2014-15, the average tuition and fee total for a full-time student at a public two-year institution was $3,347, compared to $9,139 at public four-year colleges, and private colleges and universities can be many times more expensive.

But the growing popularity of community college is driven by more than affordability.

Convenience"We're increasingly recognizing that the price of going to college is more than just tuition," says Mr. Miller in a Monitor interview. In addition to tuition, students who travel out of state to attend a public four-year institution or university also have to consider room and board fees, plus transportation costs.

"Community colleges, being close to people's homes, are becoming more affordable because you can live at home," says Miller. That's an attractive option for students from low-income families, he says. Nationwide, 44 percent of low-income students choose community colleges as their first college after high school, compared with 15 percent of students overall.

Higher acceptance ratesStudents have a much better chance of getting into a community college than a four-year college or university. "The most elite colleges are very unwilling to take on more students," says Miller. …

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