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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Health insurance is notoriously expensive in the United States, and as Americans struggle to maintain their basic health insurance coverage, many have eliminated their vision and dental insurance policies.  However, proper eye care is an essential part of overall health. A person who does not have the proper eyeglasses can suffer from a severely compromised quality of life.
 
Fortunately, a number of community colleges with optometry training programs are beginning to offer free clinics, which provide training for community college students and free or low-cost services to local residents in need.
 
Free Services Benefit Local Residents on a Budget
 
Ophthalmic technician Joy Fountain, who organizes a Community Eyecare Day along with Michigan eye care chain Advanced Eyecare Professionals, tells the Grand Rapids Press that seeing people in need who are helped by the free clinic days makes all the planning and extra effort worth it. She tells the story of one woman who came to the clinic wearing her son’s taped-together glasses, despite the fact that her son’s glasses were for a nearsighted person while the woman herself was farsighted.
 
Another woman, whose free exam revealed that she had glaucoma and who was able to receive corrective laser surgery from the clinic, tells the Grand Rapids Press that if it weren’t for the volunteers at the Community Eyecare Day, “I wouldn’t have glasses, and I probably would have lost my eyesight.”
 
The American Optometric Associations says that regular vision exams are an essential part of preventative health care. Because, as the . . . read more

In difficult economic times, many people may delay visits to the dentist because they cannot afford to pay the accompanying bill. Many college students, who struggle to pay for tuition, books, housing and other educational expenses also often put off dental work. While this plan may seem wise in the short term, neglecting one’s oral health can lead to serious health and financial consequences down the road. Those who do not get regular dental cleanings and check-ups put themselves at an increased risk for gum disease and cavities, both of which can lead to future financial and physical pain when the problems eventually need to be treated.

Fortunately, for college students who may not have the finances to pay for dental work, or for those whose health insurance does not include a dental plan, a lack of funds does not necessarily mean one’s dental health care needs to suffer. Community colleges that have dental hygienist training programs often offer
low-cost or even free dental services to college students, as well as children and adults in the general public.


 
Dental services at community colleges are fairly comparable across the nation. To help you get an idea of the kinds of services offered, as well as potential pricing, we will examine a few college-based dental clinics.
 
Normandale Community College
 
The Dental Hygiene Clinic at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, . . . read more

Many students at community colleges would not be able to pursue their educational and vocational goals were it not for the help they receive through financial aid programs.

Unfortunately, every year, some students experience the heartbreak of learning that they are no longer eligible for financial aid, and the money that has afforded them higher education is being withdrawn. Usually these students become ineligible for financial aid because their grade point averages have fallen below the minimum requirement. In other cases, they have withdrawn from a class, and thus, failed to complete the minimum number of credits per term.

Usually, students do not immediately lose their financial aid, but are instead sent a warning letter and put on probation for a school term. In a Hartford Courant article, a representative of one Connecticut community college estimates that about 20 percent of students receiving financial aid are on probation at any given time.

The warning letter and probation can serve as a harsh reality check for students who believed that financial aid would be consistent.  Margaret Wolf, director of financial aid at Connecticut's Capital Community College, tells the Hartford Courant that after students initially qualify for financial aid, they may mistakenly think that they no longer have to worry about their grades and eligibility. Students need to remember, Wolf says, that "the government is looking at you as a financial investment."

The federal government provides a number of grants and loans to students who wish to pursue higher education, but . . . read more

While financial aid, scholarships, and student loans are the most common ways to finance higher education, new savings-matching programs are helping more students attend community college. Imagine each dollar you save matched by a free dollar that you can use towards your college tuition!  
 
Savings matching programs help low and middle-income students pay for college by matching the money that participants put in a college savings account. For example, the state of Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development runs a savings matching program called New Visions, New Ventures, which will match $2 for every $1 that eligible low-income participants deposit in a savings account. The program will provide up to $4,000 in matching dollars to participants. Participants must use the money to pay tuition, buy a first house, or start a business.
 
How Savers Can Benefit Even More through Philanthropy Websites
 
Recently, savings matching programs have begun partnering with philanthropic websites to increase the savings power of their participants even further. One such pioneering website is SaveTogether.com. At SaveTogether, individual donors can read the stories of low and middle-income individuals who are participating in savings matching programs and working towards savings goals that involve post-secondary education.
 
Individual donors choose individual savers to “match,” and donations made by individuals through SaveTogether are tax deductible.
 
How the Program Works
 
By working with a variety of programs that sponsor savings-matching efforts for community college tuition, SaveTogether furthers the power of these programs.   
 
Profiles on SaveTogether Allow Donors to Choose
 
Potential donors can browse profiles of . . . read more

College textbooks are notoriously expensive. Community college students, especially those who are just beginning college or returning to school after years in the workplace, may experience sticker shock upon their first visit to the college bookstore.

A Business Week article on textbook prices reports that the General Accounting Office (GAO) says that textbook prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation since 1986! College students are estimated to spend an average of between $700 and $1,100 per year on textbooks, according to a Washington Post article on the issue.
 
The issue of textbook affordability exists for community college students as much as it does for students at four-year institutions.  Most community college classes require textbooks that are similar in price to those required at the most expensive four-year colleges and universities.
 
Thankfully, today’s community college students have a number of resources at their disposal for cutting down on the cost of textbooks. Before you pay full price for textbooks at your campus bookstore, try some of these ideas.
 
Smartly Prepare for Your Textbook Bargain-Hunting
 
Before you begin your search for cheap textbooks, you’ll need to know which books are required for your courses. Many community colleges have websites for their bookstores online where you can look up the required textbooks by entering your course ID numbers. Check to see if your college offers this service, and use it to make a list of the textbooks you need. By writing down the ISBNs as they are listed on the website, you’ll . . . 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.