5 Financial Benefits of Attending Community College
Getting a college education doesn’t have to mean spending four (or more) years at a university followed by years of paying off student debt. Attending community college before—or instead of—going to a university is a money-saving option that makes a college education attainable for just about anyone. Take a look at the following financial benefits of attending community college:
The Basics at a Bargain — The first two years of college are mostly spent taking general education classes that all students are required to take, regardless of what they plan to pursue as a major. Why spend big bucks per credit hour on these basic classes when you can take them for a fraction of the price at a community college? To really illustrate the point, The College Board did a breakdown of average annual costs for tuition and fees at four types of schools:
- Public 2-year (community) college: $3,440 for in-district students
- Public 4-year university (state schools): $9,410 for in-state students; $23,890 for out-of-state students
- Private 4-year university: $32,410
Community college is starting to look pretty great, right?
Lower Cost of Living — Attending a community college close to home means you can still live at home and save a lot of money on housing, meals, laundry and all those things you’ve taken for granted all these years. While many students look forward to dorm life, the freedom and social nature of communal living can be overwhelming. By staying at home for a few years more, you’ll save money and be better able to handle the freedom of university life once you finally get there.
More Time to Work & Earn — Community college schedules are often more flexible than universities. If you need to work during the day, for example, you can take classes in the evening or even on weekends, in some cases. Just be sure to set aside a good chunk of what you earn, so you can minimize the need for financial aid when you transfer to a university.
Increased Earning Power — Here’s something that might surprise you. Many of the fastest growing careers, including several health care professions, such as respiratory therapists, physical therapy assistants, and dental hygienists, only require an associate’s degree. Between the lower tuition costs of community college and minimal student loan debt, you could find yourself in the job market and earning more than your peers who have 4-year degrees before you know it.
Little or No Student Loan Debt — We’ve mentioned it before, but it deserves its own shout-out. Attending community college will greatly reduce — or perhaps even eliminate — your reliance on student loans. And the less debt you have (student loan or otherwise), the sooner you can start living the life you want and pursuing next steps, such as buying a home or starting a small business.