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. 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? The College Board breaks down the 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 and laundry. 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 able to handle the freedom of university life once you get there.
More Time to Work & Earn
Community college schedules are often more flexible than universities. If you need to work during the day, you can take classes in the evening or even on weekends. 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, only require an associate’s degree. Between the lower tuition costs of community college and minimal debt, you could find yourself earning more than your peers who have 4-year degrees.
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.