Each year students and colleges in the United States spend about $3 billion on remediation. Remedial courses, or college prep courses as they are known at some institutions, are required for students who do not meet pre-determined performance standards for admittance into a college-level course. Most often, community college students who require remediation need it in English or math, or both.
The most recent statistics on the matter are sobering: About half of all community college students are placed in remedial courses, which 40 percent of students never complete. Nearly 70 percent of these students never make it to a college-level math class either. Further compounding the problem is that adjunct faculty members, who typically have the least experience teaching needy populations and often suffer from a general lack of institutional support, teach approximately 75 percent of remedial courses offered at community colleges.
This is a problem seen nationwide. Over 46 percent of college-bound students in Maryland need some form of remediation. In California, the need for remediation lengthens the time students need to attain an associate’s degree by one full year and adds 20 credits to their coursework. In Virginia, 77 percent of students in the state’s community college system that are referred to remedial math courses do not complete them within three years. All this added coursework causes budgetary concerns for colleges that have to add more and more sections of non-credit courses, and worries employers who are concerned . . . read more
Community colleges offer a cost-effective means for students to obtain a degree or certificate or complete the first half of studies required for a bachelor’s degree. Because they are so affordable – annual tuition and fees average just under $3,500 – many students do not need to take out student loans in order to pay for their expenses. Some students live at home or take public transit to further lessen costs, while others attend part-time and work so they can avoid taking out loans and instead pay for their schooling out-of-pocket as they go.
However, some students don’t have the luxury of depending on mom and dad for free room and board, money for textbooks, or gas money to get to campus. For those students, the additional costs of attending a community college can add up: When all fees, room and board, and textbooks and supplies are added in, the average annual community college expenses rise to $15,000. Federal student loans provide a lifeline for many students who would not otherwise be able to afford these expenses, minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations among them. But for a million students nationwide, federal student loans are not an option because their community college does not participate in the federal student loan program.
At first glance, it may seem counterproductive for a community college not to participate in the federal student loan program. After all, more available financial aid means more students are able to enroll in courses, thus helping that institution’s . . . read more
When it became clear that the country was entering a protracted period of economic decline in 2007, traditional and non-traditional aged students alike flocked to nearby community colleges to undertake degree and certificate programs. Some sought to learn new skills in the hopes of retaining their current jobs, while others, laid off from companies tightening their belts, were in search of a completely new set of skills to make themselves more marketable.
As bad as the Great Recession was for many sectors of the economy, it was a boon for community colleges. From 2007 to 2011, the number of students enrolled at community colleges nationwide soared by almost 25 percent. Community colleges benefitted more from the recession than their four-year counterparts for several reasons. First, community colleges are far more cost efficient than four-year colleges and universities, with costs for tuition and fees just a fraction of those at their four-year counterparts. Second, community colleges typically offer more practical and vocational courses that can help students find employment in fast-growing sectors such as information technology and health care. These programs generally take two years or less to complete, therefore students can enter the workforce relatively quickly. Finally, community college is an attractive option for adults who have to work around family schedules and their occupations, because many community colleges offer evening, weekend, and online course options. Thus, when the employment outlook is poor, people can quickly reinvent themselves by obtaining a community college education.
Recent data on community college . . . read more
For many students, community college is the most affordable option for obtaining a higher education. The cost of tuition, fees, room, and board at a two-year institution averages a little over $8,500, while the same expenses for a four-year institution cost nearly double that at just under $17,000 per year. Yet, despite the cost savings, some community college students still need financial assistance to pay for their education. The financial aid application process can present a number of barriers, especially for first-time college students who are unfamiliar with the process. However, these barriers can easily be overcome when armed with the right information.
Always Apply For Aid
Each year, millions of college-bound students apply for federal financial aid. Yet, millions more eligible students don’t apply at all. During the 2011-2012 academic year, an estimated 2 million students who would have qualified for a Federal Pell Grant didn’t even fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even more surprisingly, approximately two-thirds of those students would have qualified for a full grant award that would have paid for all of their college expenses.
Instead, for a variety of reasons these students did not bother to apply. Nearly half the students who would have qualified for the Pell Grant simply believed they were not eligible for those funds. Another 34 percent reported that they didn’t want to take on debt, even though Pell Grants do not have to be repaid. Many more maintained that they did not have a financial . . . read more