How Community College Helps Student Debt

by Rachel Conway


Four-year residential colleges are extremely expensive, and can lead to massive student debt that can counter the benefits of attending college in the first place. That is one of the contributing factors as to why four out of ten high school students choose community college over a four-year university. In fact community colleges are the fastest-growing and largest sector of higher education. Two-year colleges may in fact be the best way to fight the national crisis of student debt, as they are helping eleven million students currently get a higher education without the excessive price of a four-year university. Here are five reasons why community college can help a student stay out of debt.

Staying at Home and Commuting

A big part of the expenses of a four-year college comes from the cost of room and board, as well as meal plans. Living at home and commuting to their community college will allow students to save a substantial amount of money on living expenses. By not having to pay for these amenities, students don’t have to worry about the debt that they can cause.

Completing Basic Requirements Then Transferring

Students who are set on experiencing a four-year university can have the best of both worlds. Attending a community college to get general graduation requirements fulfilled, and then transferring to a four-year university can be a financially savvy move. Community college is a great place to take care of those prerequisite credits, because the professors tend to focus on teaching rather than research. Transferring after fulfilling prerequisite courses, allows students to save money by paying community college tuition on general-education courses, and then spending money where it’s worth the most--on classes that are part of a student’s major. Transferring may not be easy, but it is a smart way to stay out of debt while still achieving academic goals.


One of the main ways that community colleges can keep students out of debt is simply because their tuition is much cheaper. By attending a community college, a student will get a quality education at a much more reasonable price. Tuition and fees of a community college are on average less than half of the cost of a public four-year college, and one-tenth of a private four-year college. This is undeniably one of the best reasons a student has for deciding to attend a community college instead of a four-year university.

Full-Tuition Scholarships

Many community colleges offer a full-tuition transfer scholarship to students who have no other way of affording a four-year university. These scholarships virtually eliminate the need for students to take out a loan for their continuing education. This type of scholarship covers all of tuition and fees from many highly ranked universities after a student has taken their general education courses at a community college.

Work Full-Time While Attending College

 Many if not most community colleges offer courses on the weekend and during the evening, so that students who work full-time can juggle their work with their education. This means that a student could attend college while working and saving money, not only eliminating student debt, but the need to go into debt in their future, and possibly obtain a dangerous type of loan, such as payday loans. These loans come at an extremely high interest rate that can be hard to repay. Because students who work while in college will most likely have some amount of savings, they will have money to fall back on in case of emergencies. Four-year universities on the other hand are nowhere near as flexible, as classes usually meet during the day, and require a student’s full-time commitment, and so students are more likely to be in debt in their future, and take out payday loans.

Photo Credit

This post was written by Rachel Conway

Rachel Conway is a staff editor at CCTS. She transferred from community college to Cornell University and enjoys helping students with this community college guide.

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