Financing

Paying for community college can be overwhelming. Use the tools, resources and tips within this section to help you finance your education. From student loans to scholarships, we’ll cover the most common financial aid options available to community college students. Get money saving tips, learn more about Pell grants, and explore the federal work-study program.
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Education is one of the essential components to breaking the poverty cycle, according to studies. However, college completion rates for students from low-income households continue to be some of the most dismal rates nationwide. According to Spotlight on Poverty, just 34 percent of students from the lowest income bracket will even enroll in higher education. Of that number, only 11 percent will actually graduate with some sort of degree. Clearly, this is not the pathway to the American Dream that our country’s leaders have envisioned.

If college completion rates are critical to raising families out of poverty in the U.S., something must be done to ensure more students from poor families are able to finish their education. This is the goal of a new three-year initiative from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the American Association of Community Colleges, in cooperation with the Open Society Foundations, as well as the Ford, Lumina, Annie E. Casey and Kresge Foundations. The Foundation Center reports that the Benefits Access for College Completion initiative is up and ready to roll at seven community colleges across the country.
 
About the Benefits Access for College Completion Initiative
 
The Benefits Access for College Completion initiative is the latest coordination to improve college completion rates by targeting low-income students. According to the website for CLASP, this initiative is designed to point low-income students to the services that will provide the financial support they need to make it through the college years. The . . . read more

Arizona is fighting an immigration battle that has become more than a little murky in recent months. With undocumented immigrants now able to apply for deferred action to continue to work legally in the U.S., the question has naturally turned to the issue of in-state tuition. Recently, those immigrants were required to pay out-of-state tuition rates, even at the schools in the states where they lived and worked. However, the introduction of the deferred action program has some schools rethinking their tuition policies, and some actually changing the rules on what undocumented immigrants must pay to get a college education in the U.S.

New Action Plan Overridden by Arizona Governor
 
In August, shortly after President Obama’s new deferred action program was introduced, the governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, made her own announcement. Governor Brewer signed an executive order for her state that mandated state agencies were not to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants in Arizona, even if they received deferred action to work in the United States. The order also stated that these individuals were to be denied all public benefits by the state, according to a report at the Tucson Citizen.
 
“As the [DHS – Department of Homeland Security] has said repeatedly…these individuals do not have lawful status,” Matthew Benson, a spokesman for the governor’s office, told the Citizen. “They are able to remain in the country and not be deported and not be prosecuted, but they do not have lawful status.”
 
While Brewer’s order lists a number . . . read more

With tuition on the rise at community colleges across the country, many prospective college students today are on the lookout for the most affordable options in higher education. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Education is ready to oblige the bargain hunters, with a list of the most affordable community colleges in the U.S.  Peruse the Department of Education’s list of deals to see if one of the schools is in your area.

The College of Affordability and Transparency Center
 
In an effort to bring affordability back to higher education, the Obama Administration has launched the College of Affordability and Transparency Center. This website offers a wealth of information about the cost of all types of higher education, with customized reports users can generate based on the information they wish to peruse. The center was created under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, according to a report at U.S. News and World Report. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan explains that availability of information like this is critical for helping students find the most affordable solutions in a college education today.
 
“We want to arm students and parents with the information they need to make smart educational choices,” Duncan told U.S. News and World Report. “Students need to know up front how much college will actually cost them, instead of waiting to find out when the first student loan bill arrives. These lists are a major step forward in unraveling the mystery of higher education pricing.”
 
In addition to pricing on . . . read more

Community college has traditionally been seen as the affordable option to the four-year college or university, but rising tuition rates at community colleges across the country have made some prospective students fear that even these institutions are becoming too expensive. The good news is that there are many options for financing a college education, from work study programs to Pell grants. Take a look at these 10 tips for making a community college degree a more affordable option once again.

Scholarships
 
Many students heading to community college do not realize that scholarships may be available. This type of financial aid is one of the most desirable because it does not have to be paid back once the degree is earned. Typically, scholarships are tied to specific skills or achievements, such as academics or sports. They are also available for particular areas of study, especially in fields in need of highly trained workers. Scholarships are also offered based on financial need, race or other factors attributed to the underserved student population.
 
According to FinAid, many free databases are available to direct students to specific scholarships for which they might qualify. In some cases, students complete a profile, and the directory will match the students to specific scholarships that complement their skill set or interests. Students are then notified which scholarships met their specifications, so that they can pursue those opportunities.
 
Grants
 
Pell grants are equally attractive to scholarships because they do not have to be paid back after . . . read more

The United States is facing a debt crisis of epic proportions, but it may not be in the area consumers would suspect. Huffington Post cites statistics from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that show student debt has now surpassed credit card debt in this country. It is no wonder that media is literally littered with reports of student debt defaults today. To make matters worse, the source of student debt is no longer community colleges and four-year public institutions. Instead, that debt is going directly to for-profit schools that charge students plenty in tuition rates, but deliver little in return.

The numbers are concerning, considering that community colleges – the schools that President Obama has touted as the training grounds for our future workforce – are scrambling to try to make ends meet. As more people head to these public institutions in hopes of getting applicable training for recession-proof, lucrative careers, the schools are finding themselves without the necessary resources to teach everyone who wants to be educated. Services and programs have been cut, and wait lists for popular courses are becoming longer and longer. State and federal funding is slim at these schools today.
 
For-Profits Enjoy Prosperity
 
This is not the case with for-profit colleges. Institutions like the University of Phoenix and ITT Technical Institute are enjoying significant prosperity these days, as they take a bigger piece of the federal funding pie through student loans courtesy of Uncle Sam. Floyd Norris of . . . read more
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Financing

Financing Basics

Build the foundation needed to navigate the community college financial aid system. Learn which schools are the most affordable, get money tips on reducing college costs, and explore the latest initiatives to make community colleges even more accessible.

Tuition

This section will help you prepare for the costs of attending community college and any future increases. Explore pricing plans, learn where you may be able to attend community college tuition-free, and examine the latest initiatives to make higher education more affordable.

Financial Aid

Our articles will provide you with the tools and resources needed to make sure you are qualifying for all the financial aid available, as well as maintaining your aid throughout your college career. Get the latest news on student loan interest rates, learn what to do when your financial aid is late, and explore all of your financial aid options.

Saving Money

This section is full of money saving tips for community college students. From free textbooks to finding affordable childcare, we’ll provide you with a wealth of information on keeping college affordable.

Grants & Scholarships

There's nothing better than free money, and these articles can help you get grants and scholarships for your community college education. Acquire information on Pell grants and why you should take advantage of them, learn how you can earn money through community college writing and get the latest news on scholarships and funding.