Footing the bill for your child’s college education is certainly one of the most expensive joys of being a parent. However, you can nearly slash those expenses in half by sending your teen to a local community college for the first two years of their college career, and later switching to a four-year college to complete their Bachelor’s degree.
How can a community college save you a bundle?
1. Tuition. According to an article published by US News, the average annual cost of tuition for a community college is merely $2,500, while the costs of its four-year counterparts average $7,000 for a public university and $26,000 for a private college.
â€¢ When choosing to start in a community college, you can save between $4,500 and $23,500 per year on tuition. Over the course of two years, your savings amount to a whopping $9,000 to $47,000!
â€¢ These savings don’t include the extra expenses associated with attending college – just the tuition. Therefore, your savings are bound to increase when considering other college related costs.
2. Financial Assistance. If your child is eligible to receive grants from the government, your out-of-pocket costs may very well drop to $0. You can use these years of “free” college to ramp up your savings for the upcoming years your child will spend in a four-year college.
â€¢ Many students even receive a check for the overage of their grant ranging from $200 to $600 or more per semester.
â€¢ It’s a misconception that only children from low income families are able to receive grants. However, the government offers both need-based and non-need-based grants. This is in addition to the aid received through the FAFSA and other sources like scholarships.
3. Room-and-Board. Next to tuition, room-and-board will be the most costly expense of sending your child to college. Attending a local community college allows you to completely forgo this expense by having your child live at home.
â€¢ According to Collegeboard.com, annual room-and-board at a public college averages $7,400, while the average is over $8,500 at a private college.
â€¢ Even if you decide to give your teen the “ultimate college experience” by allowing them to live in the dorm, the room-and-board rates of a community college are significantly less expensive than those charged by 4-year colleges.
â€¢ Keep in mind, the majority of community colleges refrain from offering housing to their students.
4. Fewer amenities. Community colleges are designed to keep costs low for the students. Therefore a no-frills campus is the norm. It’s common for community colleges to forgo dorm rooms, elaborate sports teams and stadiums, fraternities/sororities, and other distractions.
â€¢ Eliminating some of these “frills” will help your student focus on his schoolwork rather than indulging in dorm life, a bowling league, or a fraternity.
â€¢ Another reason community colleges are able to keep costs so low is that they often forgo teacher’s assistants, which are generally paid an average of $15,000 per year. The professors must take on a heavier workload, but the student gets the benefit of being taught by the professor rather than an assistant.
In short: there’s nothing wrong with community colleges. Yes, there will be less frills and your teen will have to become comfortable with the fact that they’ll live with mom and dad for two more years. But this also avoids rowdy roommates and the distractions that ensue.
Your teen may be giving up a few parts of “the ultimate college experience” for the first two years, but they can make up for it in the final years of their college career. Also, your teen may be able to graduate from college with very little to no debt. For most kids, it’s a worthy tradeoff.