Use this Community College Guide to learn more about community colleges and their benefits.
Reasons to Consider a Community College
Community colleges offer excellent two-year vocational degrees. You can enroll at nearly 1500 community colleges nationwide. Over one-fourth (28%) of community colleges offer housing.
Tuition can be half the cost of tuition at a four-year public university. In 2022, the average annual tuition at a public community college (in district) was $5,261. This compared to $10,440 at a public, in-state four-year college.
For some or all students in 47 states, community college is tuition-free. Many states have passed Last-Dollar Grants or Promise Scholarships making tuition free—AFTER students have filed the FAFSA for state and federal grant money. Other states and metropolitan areas are in the process of creating last-dollar funds. Some educational foundations such as Access College Foundation also award last-dollar funds to community college students. The Campaign for Free College Tuition tracks state programs.
Starting at home may ease the transition to college for some students. Students who earn a community college degree in two years and transfer to a four-year institution have a four-year graduation rate of 60%. Additionally, studies suggest community colleges do a good job of preparing students for success.
Many jobs that require a community college degree pay well. Two-year degree programs in the medical, engineering, construction, welding, diesel mechanic, law enforcement, and more offer great pay in high-demand fields.
Community colleges work with industries to create seamless degrees to work experiences. The AACC Pathways Project involves 30 institutions in 17 states to further this effort. The AACC Community College Finder features a map of community colleges by state and can be searched by location, keyword, type of city, and/or institution type.
What You May Not Know About Community College
- Remedial classes cost money and yield no college credit. Avoid them by preparing for and securing a solid ACT or SAT score—or a solid score on the community college’s placement test.
- Many students struggle in community collge due to poor math and study skills. These are significant reasons for high community college dropout rates.
- Remember, not all community college class credits are accepted by four-year colleges.
- Many community colleges have specific agreements with nearby four-year colleges.
- Most four-year universities have very few transfer scholarships.
- Some students are dual-enrolled in both a community college and a four-year university.
- High school summers are a great time to take community college classes.
- Also, community colleges have residency rates and requirements.
If You Attend Community College
- Begin right after high school graduation before poor summer habits set in.
- Remember, community college is not an extension of high school.
- Tutoring is available at community colleges. See an advisor and stay on track.
- Students are in class for fewer hours than in high school.
- And, it may be to your advantage to take an additional ACT or SAT before transferring.
If your goal is to enter a four-year university, keep in contact with the institution(s) in which you are interested. Their admission offices will treat you as a prospective student. Thus, they can help ensure you are on track at your community college. Students who start at two-year colleges with plans to transfer to a four-year college (2+2) should take at least 15 credits per semester. Therefore, you can both graduate from a community college and stay on track to graduate in four years.