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.

View the most popular articles in Financing Basics:

How To Pay For A Community College Education

Updated
|
How To Pay For A Community College Education
We look in-depth at how you can pay for a community college education.

There are several ways to pay for a community college education. Community colleges offer affordable educational options, and various funding sources and strategies are available to help cover the costs.

Here are some common methods:

Grants and Scholarships

Federal Grants

The U.S. Department of Education offers need-based grants such as the Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. These grants do not require repayment.

State Grants

Many states provide financial assistance programs specifically for community college students. Check with your state's higher education agency or financial aid office for available grants.

Institutional Scholarships

Community colleges often offer their own scholarships based on academic achievement, financial need, or specific areas of study. Research and apply for scholarships offered by your college.

Financial Aid

Federal Student Aid

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility for federal student aid programs, including grants, work-study opportunities, and low-interest student loans.

Work-Study Programs

Participate in a Federal Work-Study program, which provides part-time employment opportunities on or off campus to help cover educational expenses.

Employer Tuition Assistance

Some employers offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs to employees pursuing higher education. Inquire with your employer's human resources department to explore such opportunities.

Education Tax Credits and Deductions

American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC)

This tax credit provides up to $2,500 per year for eligible education expenses, including tuition, fees, and course materials.

Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC)

This credit offers up to $2,000 per year

. . .read more

How to Pay for Community College as a Single Parent

Updated
|
How to Pay for Community College as a Single Parent
Being a single parent is difficult (and expensive) but it shouldn't stop you from furthering your education. Read on to learn how to pay for community college as a single parent.

Life as a single parent is tough enough without the added burden of going to school. If you’re already shouldering a load of parenthood by yourself, you’re probably hesitant to add more to your plate. Furthering your education, however, could provide opportunities both for yourself and for your children that could change your lives for the better.

Getting a degree can open doors for you, but it does come with its own challenges and many of those challenges are financial. Raising a child is expensive, and so is going to school! Student loans are available for single parents, but they may not be the best option.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of community college in particular for single parents and we’ll provide some tips for making it more affordable.

The Benefits of Community College for Single Parents

Whether you’re starting college for the first time or continuing your education, community college provides many unique benefits over traditional 4-year schools, especially for single parents.

The way community colleges are structured is much more flexible than the typical college or university. Many community colleges offer both in-class and online courses with tuition prices that are much lower than traditional schools. Classes are offered both during the day and in the evening, making it easier for busy single parents to find a class schedule that fits their lifestyle. Plus, this flexibility enables single parents to keep working while attending college.

Another benefit of community college for single parents

. . .read more

What Are Your Options for Refinancing Student Loans?

Updated
|
What Are Your Options for Refinancing Student Loans?
Many recent graduates are crippled with student loan debt, are you one of them? If so, keep reading to learn about refinancing options that could save you thousands.

If you are one of the millions of college graduates struggling with student loan debt, you might be considering an option to refinance. Even though community college is often more affordable than a traditional four-year university, school is never cheap. Depending on your debt and how much you can pay, you might be able to consolidate and/or refinance your loans to make your payments more affordable – keep reading to learn more.

Save Money by Refinancing Your Student Loans

Refinancing your loans means that you will be repaying your existing debt by taking on a new loan with new terms, often from a new creditor. Two of the most common options for refinancing your student loans are private loan refinancing and federal loan consolidation. Again, it depends on the type of loans you have and how much debt you have as well. If you can refinance through a private lender, you might be able to get a lower interest rate. At the same time, federal loan consolidation is usually a good option for people who are looking to simplify the repayment process by lumping multiple loans into a single payment plan. Loan consolidation may or may not give you a better interest rate.

If you’re thinking about refinancing your community college student loans, there are a few questions you should ask yourself first:

  1. Why are you refinancing?
  2. What are your options?
  3. What rate can I get?

The first question about why you are refinancing is very important – your goals

. . .read more

10 Tips for Making Community College More Affordable

Updated
|
10 Tips for Making Community College More Affordable
As tuition rates at community colleges increase nationwide, we share options in financial aid and other tips to make the college experience more affordable, including what the government has proposed to keep community college affordable.

Community college has traditionally been seen as an affordable option to the four-year college or university, but rising tuition rates at community colleges across the country have made some prospective students fear that even these institutions are becoming too expensive. The good news is that there are many options for financing a college education, from work-study programs to Pell grants. Take a look at these 10 tips for making a community college degree a more affordable option once again.

Scholarships

Many students heading to community college do not realize that scholarships may be available. This type of financial aid is one of the most desirable because it does not have to be paid back once the degree is earned. Typically, scholarships are tied to specific skills or achievements, such as academics or sports. They are also available for particular areas of study, especially in fields in need of highly trained workers. Scholarships are also offered based on financial need, race or other factors attributed to the underserved student population.

According to FinAid, many free databases are available to direct students to specific scholarships for which they might qualify. In some cases, students complete a profile, and the directory will match the students to specific scholarships that complement their skill set or interests. Students are then notified which scholarships met their specifications so that they can pursue those opportunities.

Grants

Pell grants are equally attractive to scholarships because they do

. . .read more

Wealthier Students Taking Community College Path

Updated
|
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 for a bright future.

The Changing Demographic

The report on the Sallie Mae website, “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

. . .read more

Recent Articles

A to Z of Community College Certificates and Courses
A to Z of Community College Certificates and Courses
From business and healthcare to technology and skilled trades, the article showcases the breadth of options available to students seeking to enhance their knowledge, develop new skills, or pursue career advancement.
Microcredentials: Tailoring Learning Journeys in Robotics
Microcredentials: Tailoring Learning Journeys in Robotics
Micro-credentials offer a unique opportunity for adult learners to tailor their learning journeys to their specific needs and career aspirations. In this article we explore micro-credentials in robotics.
6 New Features for Community College Students
6 New Features for Community College Students
Check out the new features waiting for community college students heading back to school, from new security procedures, to campus housing, classes and degree programs.

Financing