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Reduce the Cost of College, Part II: Community College

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Welcome to the second part of my new series on ways to reduce the cost of college. Even if you have been savvy college shopper and received financial aid, you might still be suffering from sticker shock.  So last week we talked about how to save one-quarter of your tuition, room and board costs by graduating college in three years rather than four. This week I’m exploring how community college can help you keep your costs down.

One of the best ways to cut college costs is by enrolling in a local community college for the first two years, then transferring to a four-year school. Your diploma will be from the four-year institution, but your out of pocket expenses won’t be.

Take for example my neighbor, who just finished her freshmen year at Johnson County Community College (one of the top 10 2-year colleges in the nation, by the way). There she pays an average of $190 per class of four semester credit hours. At the University of Kansas, where she is planning to transfer at the end of next year, she will pay $900 for that same class. If she wanted to attend a private four-year college, her tuition savings would be even more dramatic.

Another way to take advantage of the lower cost of community college tuition is to enroll in one your senior year of high school. In fact, many schools offer this option for gifted students. But you don’t need to be a genius to avail yourself of major cost savings!

Most schools accept transfer students with up to four semesters worth of credit. Be sure to check with your future institution about their specific policies.

Tip: Get the transfer policy in writing, just in case it changes while you are earning your way to a less expensive degree.

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