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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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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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 Grant
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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
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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, Minnesota, provides comprehensive services to adult patients from the college, as well
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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
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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.