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:

Wealthier Students Taking Community College Path

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Wealthier Students Taking Community College Path
A recent study by Sallie Mae shows that many of the families choosing community college for their students today are in income brackets over $100,000. We’ll explore possible reasons for the demographic change.
The face of the community college student appears to be changing in more ways than one, as a slow economy and skyrocketing tuition rates at four-year schools have begun to take their toll. A recent study by student loan provider Sallie Mae found that more students from high-income families are moving to community college right out of high school, thanks to lower tuition costs and better career options. It also seems that the attitude toward community college education is improving, as more students see this path as a viable option to a bright future.
 

The Changing Demographic

The report on the Sallie Mae website, titled, “How America Pays for College 2011,” explains that in the past four years, many families across the country and from all income brackets have shifted from four-year institutions to two-year community colleges. This shift could be a factor in why middle- and high-income families have been able to reduce education costs and take less money from income and savings to pay the price for higher education.

The study found that during the 2009-2010 academic year, 12 percent of high-income families (families making $100,000 or more) sent students to two-year colleges. The following school year, that percentage went up to 22 percent. That increase correlates with a drop in four-year college enrollment during the same time frame, which shifted from 56 percent during the 2009-2010 school year, to just 48 percent the following year. This group also reported paying 18 percent less
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FAFSA Applications: Community Colleges Offer Assistance

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FAFSA Applications: Community Colleges Offer Assistance
Need help with your FAFSA application?Many community colleges are offering workshops and other types of assistance to help students get the financial aid necessary to head to college next year.
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 for students 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 from college.
 
This video
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Community College Students Offer Free Tax Help

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Community College Students Offer Free Tax Help
Many community college students provide tax help during these months, through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. We’ll highlight some of the schools where these services are available.
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
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More Scholarship Money Coming to California Community Colleges this Year

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More Scholarship Money Coming to California Community Colleges this Year
Learn about a recent endowment to California community colleges that will provide financial support to thousands of students in need.
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 the
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Short End of the Stick: Why Some Community College Students Can't Get Federal Loans

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Short End of the Stick: Why Some Community College Students Can't Get Federal Loans
A new study by the Institute for College Access and Success points at the glaring problem facing many community college students: they can't access federal student loans. Learn about the study, the problem, and what resources you do have available.
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 of higher learning.
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Tips for Minimizing Educational Debt While in School
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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.
How to Pay for Community College as a Single Parent
How to Pay for Community College as a Single Parent
Federal Work Study Programs: Pros and Cons
Federal Work Study Programs: Pros and Cons
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007
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.
Community College Scholarships
Community College Scholarships
Why You Should Take Advantage of the Pell Grant
Why You Should Take Advantage of the Pell Grant
7 Savvy Scholarship Tips for Community College Students
7 Savvy Scholarship Tips for Community College Students