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:
Why do those who need financial aid most unlikely to apply? Learn about College Board's new study and how community colleges can help the neediest apply for financial aid.
Community college students are much more likely to qualify for financial aid than students attending four-year universities. However, students attending two-year institutions are unlikely to apply for the aid, according to a recently released report by College Board. The discrepancy has inspired many higher educators to "put on their thinking caps" and come up with a solution to make community college more affordable to those who can least afford it.
 
According to the College Board Study, only 58% of community college students who are eligible for Pell grants applied for financial aid, compared with 77% of Pell-eligible students at four-year institutions. The College Board report states, "Although community college students are more likely to be eligible for need-based federal aid, they are less likely than their peers at other types of institutions to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)."
 
Community colleges have traditionally appealed to low-income students because of their lower tuition rates and close relationships with the local community. Adults also utilized the educational services at community colleges to further their careers or switch industries relatively quickly.
 
Community colleges provide a valuable service to their communities, but those services are grossly underutilized if the people who need them most cannot get the assistance necessary to use them.
 
Why Students Don't Apply for Aid
 
A report on Education-Portal.com outlines some of the challenges facing low-income students and the community colleges that could provide them with affordable education:
  • Students may lack basic understanding about the financial planning necessary
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Learn about the Department of Education's new Direct Loan Program and how you can prepare for the change in your financial aid.
The tide has turned in federal financial aid – and students will be the benefactors. The newly minted U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loan Program will now administer federal financial aid, cutting out the middlemen banks that once profited on doling out these funds to students. 

Amidst all of the changes, “student loans are in transition, and those who use them need to pay particular attention right now as the U.S. Department of Education's Direct Loan Program takes responsibility for lending,” The Daily Press sagely advises. 
 
Make sure that you are taking the right steps to apply for and manage your community college financial aid, using this article as your guide. 
 
Financial Aid & the Federal Government: Overview of New Legislation
 
According to the New York Times, President Obama recently passed legislation that allows the Department of Education to directly provide students with financial aid loans. This new law eliminates any fees paid to private banks, as banks will no longer serve as intermediary parties between students and their access to college loans. Without banks acting as middlemen, an estimated $6 to $7 billion dollars of federal money will be saved annually, benefiting the government, taxpayers, and students, according to the Congressional Budget Office.   
 
As outlined by the legislation, as of July 2014, students set to borrow money for college will be permitted to, “cap repayments at 10 percent of income above a basic living allowance, instead of 15 percent.” 
 
Adding to this advantage, students who maintain responsible repayment histories will have their
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Community college health insurance can save you more than $1,000 each year. Learn more about the coverage and policies offered right through your community college campus.
While those on Capitol Hill continue to debate the pros and cons of the proposed national healthcare plan, community college students need to find affordable options for health coverage today. Most community colleges offer or even mandate health coverage plans for qualified students – but are these plans a good choice for your health and pocketbook? In fact, depending upon your specific community college, enrolling in your campus’ health insurance plan could save you $1000 or more annually!
 
Community College Health Insurance vs. Individual Policies
 
Community colleges are able to offer their students group policies, which typically translate into more affordable premiums and better coverage than individual health insurance policies. However, just how much can you save by opting for your community college’s coverage? 
 
Some states leverage a large number of their community colleges to provide their students with the best health insurance rates. For example, the Community College League of California (CCLC), which currently has 69 campuses in its league, allows students to purchase health insurance at $88 per month. 
 
In evaluating CCLC’s insurance benefits, the policy is a PPO with a low yearly deductible of $250. While there is a maximum lifetime benefit per each accident or sickness of $50,000, the other benefits are very comprehensive. For example, the policy pays for 100% of ambulance service and 80% of most medical services, and the co-pay for a standard doctor visit is only $25. 
 
If a non-smoking male California student between the ages of 18 - 22 was to obtain the same type of health insurance
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Learn about the millions of unclaimed Pell Grant dollars that could help fund your community college education. Find out if you qualify and how you can apply for the free funds.
Are you taking full advantage of your financial aid opportunities?   If you have not yet applied for the Pell Grant, then you may be missing out on millions in federal funding that is currently being unused.  In fact, in California alone, more than 500,000 community college students were eligible for the Pell Grant, but simply did not apply for it, according to the Institute for College Access and Success

As a grant, the Pell Grant does not need to be repaid, making it one of the best financial aid opportunities. In addition, the Obama administration plans to inject another $40 billion into the program, as reported by the Washington Post.
 
Understanding the Pell Grant
 
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Pell Grant is a needs-based program that provides financial aid to low-income undergraduate students. You are eligible for the grant if you have not yet received a bachelor’s degree or another professional degree, and if you meet financial criteria based upon several factors:
  •   Expected family contribution
  •   Family size
  •   Student’s income 
  •   Cost of attending the community college
  •   Enrollment status and timeline
In roughly evaluating whether or not you would qualify for the Pell Grant, 57% of Pell Grant recipients in 2005 – 2006 had family incomes of less than $20,000 annually, while 90% of Pell Grant recipients in 1999 – 2000 were from families with income less than $41,000 per year. However, if your family income is less than $60,000, you are technically eligible for Pell Grants.   
 
As “free” money, the Pell
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See Clearly with Community Colleges' Free Eye Care Clinics
Free eye care is only one community college visit away. Learn about community college programs around the country that offer free eye care to local residents.
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
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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.