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.
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Hot on the heels of the Dream Act, many states are debating whether illegal immigrants should qualify for in-state tuition rates at community colleges. Learn about the current law, Supreme Court rulings, and what several states have to say.
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
While community colleges are a very affordable option over four-year universities, some campuses are increasing their tuition either across the board or for popular degree programs.
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
In a time of economic uncertainty, more community colleges have begun to offer reduced or free tuition. Learn about the national movement and proposed legislation that may make all community colleges tuition-free for the unemployed.
As a response to the weakened economy, workplaces across the country are cutting back on their employees and salaries. While this may come as a devastating and unexpected surprise for many workers, some community colleges view this unfortunate downturn as a potential time for new opportunities.
Some community colleges are providing students with "insurance" against unemployment, while others are outright giving free tuition to students. While many community colleges have independently been offering residents free or reduced tuition, federal legislation may give unemployed individuals across the nation free access to further education.
Pending Legislation for Greater Support
In light of recent job cuts across the United States, many residents and leaders support plans to offer reduced or free tuition for unemployed citizens. As The Pittsburgh Gazette reports, Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senator Bob Casey is one of the many senators and government officials proclaiming that reduced tuition may help foster an improved workforce for the future. Casey hopes to pass legislation that would create an Unemployment Tuition Assistance Program in the Department of Labor, wherein individuals who are receiving unemployment payments will be automatically notified as to whether or not they could also receive tuition assistance. If all goes as planned, the legislation could help reimburse schools a maximum of $1,000 per student.
While this plan sounds optimistic, many experts opposed to the plan argue that there are not enough funds to cover the costs of free tuition. Casey, however, argues that the proposed legislation would force the Labor Department to reimburse colleges that are registered with the
Learn about the free and reduced-fee tuition offered at many community colleges, who are hoping to help unemployed individuals advance their job skills to re-enter into the workforce.
As individuals across the country struggle to cope with layoffs in a dwindling economy, many workers are finding that their once-desirable resume is no longer up to par in the fiercely competitive job market.
As a result, many states are offering laid off workers free community college tuition! Specifically, states such as Kentucky, Oregon, and Michigan are all seeking to stimulate their community’s knowledge and job application appeal by providing free classes and affordable tuition to workers in need. Depending on each school’s programs, laid off employees can either benefit from completely free tuition or significant tuition discounts.
According to reports from The Business Courier, Kentucky Community College (KCC) and Kentucky Community Technical College System are offering extra tuition support to Kentucky residents who have recently encountered job loss.
Set into motion with the support of Governor Steve Beshear, Kentucky community schools now offer a “Career Transitions Program,” where newly laid-off students are provided with a 50 percent tuition reduction for up to 6 credit hours each semester. Providing this incredible discount at 16 various Kentucky community colleges, students who have been laid off can utilize this discount for a full year of education or training. Additionally, this program is also designed to help provide newly laid-off individuals with personal support to navigate the process for financial aid or student loans.
The main goal of this program is to provide high quality, low cost and convenient education and training to individuals who are struggling to
Learn about movements around the country to make community college courses tuition-free for qualifying students.
Due to the financial challenges incoming students face, many local and state leaders are advocating for tuition-free community college programs. As community colleges strive to provide local residents with programs for certification, degrees, and training, many community leaders argue that tuition-free programs will help students to more effectively prepare for the job market without being subjected to excessive educational costs during difficult economic times.
The Tuition-Free Debate
As Diverse Community College reveals in their investigation, the county majors of both Knoxville and Memphis assert that residents of their communities should have access to free public education at local community colleges. Mayors A.C. Wharton and Mike Ragsdale of local Tennessee counties argue that, in utilizing the resources of scholarships and grants that are currently available, local community colleges can shift their current programs to create tuition free pathways for incoming and current students. As Tennessee, along with most states across the country, are struggling with job losses and a struggling economy, Wharton argues that the shift for tuition-free programs is Tennessee’s attempt at creating a more effective and prepared work force: “‘We want to blast our way into being able to produce a world-class work force. You can't do that with merely a high school diploma.’”
By collaborating with community college and local political leaders, the Tennessee mayors are working to establish a proposal that will provide residents with tuition-free access to higher education. As the leaders describe, “The community college program,
We report on the recent increases in Stafford Loan Rates, which have led to some community colleges across the country discontinuing this option for financial aid.
Attending college is expensive but there are options for financing beyond just student loans. Keep reading to learn more.
College is expensive enough without the added cost of medical school on top of it. If you're on a pre-med track, consider taking some of your prerequisites at community college. Keep reading to learn more.