Value of Community College Education More Apparent Than Ever
The rising cost of college and the amount of debt students take on to finance higher education have recently been called matters of national importance by elected officials and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. These leaders are holding summits and hearings to debate possible solutions to the problem.
While all colleges and universities should continue to address the perennial concerns regarding cost and student debt, the fact remains that community colleges represent the best value in higher education -- providing affordable educational programs leading to life-changing opportunities.
According to the College Board, in 2011-12, tuition and fees cost an average of $28,500 at private nonprofit four-year colleges, $8,244 at public four-year colleges, and $2,963 at public community colleges.
Not surprisingly, more students are choosing to begin their college journey at a community college, and these students are coming from all types of backgrounds with all types of educational goals.
For example, student loan provider Sallie Mae found that 22 percent of students coming from households with a combined income of $100,000 or more attended community colleges in 2010-11. Starting at a community college and transferring to a four-year institution after earning an associate degree saves students and their families thousands of dollars and results in the same educational outcome -- a marketable degree. Also, many two-year associate degrees and one-year or less certificates lead directly to rewarding jobs and careers.
Depending on the level of education you seek, incurring some student loan debt may be unavoidable. However, numerous grants, scholarships and federal work-study positions are available to help cover the costs of college. …