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
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