With college costs rising and student debt remaining a hot topic of conversation, public opinion about four-year colleges has begun to shift, as people contemplate whether they are in fact the only or best option for everyone. the students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 7 million undergraduate students enrolled in public two-year colleges during the 2020-21 academic year, representing 33 percent of all undergraduate students.
While there are many reasons to choose a community college over a traditional four-year program, one key factor is cost. Student Loan Hero reports that the average cost per credit for a two-year public school is $158, compared to $448 for a four-year public school. The latter number increases significantly, to $1,148 per credit hour, when that four-year school is out of state. Cheaper classes may put less pressure on students to settle down and immediately choose a career path. Community colleges also allow for flexibility in ways traditional schools might not: Students who work full-time can attend school part-time and often in the evening. Whether it’s to save money, take advantage of flexibility, or experiment with career choices, community colleges not only serve as an alternative but also a gateway to four-year colleges.
The cost of a four-year college education continues to dominate the national conversation as the US now bears the post-pandemic effects on higher education. The CARES Act awarded $14 billion to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to help students and institutions negatively impacted by COVID-19, but under-enrollment and funding issues persist. Many progressives have passed plans that would free up public colleges in America. Others are more skeptical, coming up with more modest loan forgiveness ideas. These changes would have substantial effects on the education sector.
Stacker looked at data from Niche’s 2023 best community colleges in America to compile this list of the top 100 community colleges nationwide. The data is based on rigorous analysis of academic, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education, along with student and alumni reviews. The list of community colleges includes public junior colleges, public technical schools, and all other two-year public colleges.
Read on to see how community colleges stack up across the nation.
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