As many of you know, I volunteer my time to help students in my local community with the college admissions process. Because we have a community college in our town, many students opt to go to the “cheaper” option. But is a community college necessarily a cheaper option? Like much of college admissions the answer is “it depends”.
The Institute for College Access & Success has a new report out entitled “Quick Facts About Financial Aid and Community Colleges, 2007-2008.” According to that report, community college students who have financial need are more likely than students at four year colleges to have unmet need. 80% of community college students have unmet need after all financial aid is awarded compared to only 54% of students at public four year colleges.
Moreover, the report found that students at community colleges with documented need have an average gap of unmet need of $5,277 while students at public four year colleges had an average gap of unmet need of $5,286.
I have recently discussed some of the problems faced by community college students who plan to transfer to four year colleges. Considering the findings of this new report together with the other problems faced by community college students, the assumption that the community college is a cheaper option may not be true for many students.
Community colleges educate about 25% of the college students in this country and for many they do a great job at a reasonable price. But one should not assume that the community college will be cheaper than other options without doing your home work.