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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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
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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
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With tax day just around the corner, many Americans are scrambling to get their documents in order and their forms completed. For those who need help with the return but can't afford to hire the services of a CPA, there is an alternative. The IRS offers volunteer tax assistance in a variety of communities to help low-income families get the help they need before April 15. The benefits are even more far-reaching, as many community college students aspiring to accounting careers can get the training and experience they need to work in this volunteer program.

We'll give a brief overview of the volunteer program and who it helps, as well as list a few of the community colleges that have come alongside the IRS to help Americans get their taxes filed on time.
 
What is VITA?
 
According to the IRS website, VITA, also referred to as the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, is designed to offer free tax help to low to moderate-income Americans who are unable to complete their own tax returns. The service utilizes certified volunteers sponsored by a number of organizations to provide the assistance people need to file their basic income tax forms.

Most of the VITA stations are located at community places like libraries, schools and shopping malls. Community colleges are another option where VITA services might be provided.
 
VITA helps many different groups of Americans file their taxes accurately and on time. Some of the people that qualify for VITA services include:
 
       ·         Families with incomes below $49,000
 
       ·         Those
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Many high school graduates find an affordable solution to expensive four-year universities by attending community colleges in their area instead. Professionals who require additional training or need to forge a new career path have also found community colleges to be an affordable solution to their career needs.
 
However, community college is becoming a little less affordable in some areas, with the current economic slowdown forcing many schools to hike up tuition rates in an effort to combat rising costs and decreased funding.  
 
In Tucson, Arizona, Pima Community College is considering increases in tuition rates for some of their more popular programs. The school is facing financial shortfalls after having state appropriations cut by more than 30% over the past two years. Roy Flores, the college's chancellor, told Inside Higher Ed, "It looks like we'll have budget cuts for the foreseeable future…As we get squeezed from every corner, I'm concerned about the future of our occupational programs and our ability to respond to people who get laid off and need new skills to get back on their feet."
 
Instead of raising actual tuition rates, Pima is considering a premium charge of 10-30% on popular programs like nursing and avionics. The charge would be phased in slowly, rather than getting assessed in a single expensive bill. Flores does not believe the addition of a premium charge would price many students out of the opportunity to pursue a degree through Pima.
 
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Increasing amounts of financial aid have made the community college track more affordable today. However, students who have been awarded financial aid are quickly finding that getting approved for financial aid and actually getting a check to pay for mounting expenses are not necessarily one and the same.

The Backlog
 
Community college financial aid offices are getting inundated with financial aid applications this year, as more students are finding reasons to head to these two-year institutions to prepare them for the workforce. At the same time, budget cuts are reducing the number of staff available to process this expansive number of applications. The result at many community colleges is a backlog of requests that will take many weeks to process. 
 
This is not good news for thousands of community college students who rely on those financial aid checks to pay for basic necessities like food and rent, as well as the cost of tuition and books. If the checks don't arrive timely, some students are faced with the realization that they may not be able to live up to their lease obligations, purchase the textbooks they need or put food on the table. If financial aid doesn't come soon, some may be forced to abandon their education.
 
Offering Assistance
 
In some cases, the colleges are doing what they can to help cash-strapped students eke by until the aid check arrives. Some colleges are waiving fees for late tuition payments and others are offering interest free loans for
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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.