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.
View the most popular articles in Financing:
The deadline for submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is looming, and colleges across the country are offering assistance with financial aid paperwork. This basic form, which is the first step in gaining grants or loans from the federal government, have helped many students pay for the rising costs of higher education. For those with questions about the FAFSA, answers may be as close as their local community college.

What is FAFSA?
 
The FAFSA is the first step in the financial aid process, whether students are looking for federal or state assistance. According to a report at the Rhode Show, this mother of all financial aid forms allows the federal government to determine a student’s eligibility for financial aid. The states also use the paperwork to determine whether students qualify for loans or grants at the state level. Colleges and universities use the information on the FAFSA to get an idea of just how much financial aid a student might need to attend a specific school.
 
The FAFSA opens the door to a variety of financial aid options, including the popular Stafford loans and grad PLUS loans. Student loans like these are preferable to private loans for most students because they come with low interest rates and an array of consumer protections and benefits. One of the most attractive features of some of these loans is an Income-Based Repayment Plan that allows students to pay off balances in increments they can afford once they graduate . . . read more

April may still seem like a long way off, but it’s not too soon for many Americans to begin thinking about filing their tax returns. Tax preparation can be a complex business, and not everyone can afford to hire the services of a CPA to help them with the process. The good news is that help is available for those who cannot afford professional assistance, and it may be as close as your neighborhood community college. By enlisting the help of a college student who is majoring in the accounting field, you can get expert advice without paying a fortune for the service.

About VITA
 
Tax assistance at the local community college is generally offered through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, also known as VITA. According to the IRS website, this program is available to anyone who earns $50,000 or less and requires assistance filing their tax returns. The volunteers that work with VITA are trained in IRS guidelines and are IRS certified to offer tax advice on issues such as earned income tax credit, child tax credits and other tax deductions.
 
Those that work on the community college campus are often accounting students from the school, but other volunteers may be working in that particular office as well. Many of this year’s VITA programs are already up and running, allowing many who qualify for the services a head start on this year’s tax return. Many offices provide free electronic filing, so those that use their services can . . . read more

Community college students in California who are struggling to make ends meet and pay their tuition bills may get a boost this academic year. The Foundation for California Community Colleges has set up a permanent scholarship fund of nearly $68 million to provide students with the financial aid they need to continue their education. The endowment fund is a culmination of three years of fundraising work that started with a gift from the Bernard Osher Foundation.

About the Scholarship
 
Three years ago, the Bernard Osher Foundation gave the Foundation for California Community Colleges a gift of $25 million to begin a scholarship fund for community college students. According to a press release on the Foundation for California Community Colleges website, the Bernard Osher Foundation was founded in 1977 by Bernard Osher, as a means of supporting higher education and the arts. In addition to the initial gift, the foundation also promised to match funds raised by the colleges themselves.
 
The L.A. Times reports that California’s 112 community colleges worked together for three years to raise $28.5 million for the scholarship fund. This allowed the Bernard Osher Foundation to contribute an additional $14.2 million to the endowment, which brought the grand total in the scholarship fund to $67.7 million. The scholarship fund is designed to provide financial aid to thousands of California community college students annually.
 
According to a report in the San Francisco Business Times, this fund is the biggest system-wide community college endowment in . . . read more

Community colleges are known for their low-cost education options that help students with limited funds get the training they need to find good jobs after graduation. However, many hopeful students are realizing that even community college can become an "impossible dream," once they discover federal loans are not available for many of these institutions.
 
A recent study from the Institute for College Access and Success found that more than one million students across 31 states do not have access to the federal loans they need to make a college education a reality. We will explore the reasons behind this reality, and how it impacts the ability of adults to get the education and training they need today.
 
What Federal Loans can Do
 
The Institute for College Access and Success conducted this study through their initiative, Project on Student Debt, which is committed to helping make college more available and affordable to students of all backgrounds. The study states that community colleges serve a variety of purposes, from awarding associate degrees and certificates to providing workforce training and lifelong learning opportunities for students of all ages. These schools are designed to serve students of all backgrounds and income levels, ensuring everyone in this country has access to necessary training to land good jobs after graduation. Community colleges are currently educating 40 percent of all the undergraduate students across the country.
 
The low tuition and fee rates have historically made these institutions more affordable than other schools . . . read more

As the immigration debate rages on, a new aspect of the controversy has come to the forefront: should illegal immigrants  qualify for in-state tuition at state colleges?  A federal law on the books prohibits the practice, but many states have overridden that law to allow those who have grown up in their public schools to move on to higher education after graduation. Others oppose the idea of allowing people who are in the country illegally – and as such, are disqualified from becoming a member of the workforce – to reap benefits not available to legal residents of the country. We will take a look at both sides of the debate, and how some states are deciding to handle the issue of illegal immigration in their own education systems.
 
What the Law Says
 
A federal law passed in 1996 prohibits illegal immigrants from paying in-state tuition at public institutions of higher education, according to an article at FinAid. The law reads:
 
"An alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a state for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident."
 
Since the federal law was passed, several states have passed state laws allowing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants residing in those states, if the student has attended high . . . read more
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Recent Articles
Freshman Year in College Looks More and More Like High School
Freshman Year in College Looks More and More Like High School
Nearly 52 percent of community college students in the United States begin their freshman year in at least one remedial class. These courses, which help students acquire knowledge and skills they should have acquired in high school, do not count toward their degree requirements. As a result, students are taking longer than ever to obtain their degree, if they obtain one at all.
Federal Student Loans – Unavailable at 20% of Community Colleges
Although a community college education is inexpensive when compared to tuition and fees at a four-year institution, some students still need financial assistance to pay their education bills. Yet, some community colleges don’t participate in the federal student loan program, putting some students in a financial bind.
Post-Recession Cliff Looms for Community Colleges
While many factors have contributed to the current decline in community college enrollment, the recovering economy is chief among them. As more and more people return to the workforce, fewer students enroll in courses at community colleges. Many institutions must now deal with budget shortfalls in the face of double-digit declines in enrollment.
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.