Starting out at community college may not actually be more affordable, report shows

Posted on January 8th, 2013

It is common for students to attend a community college for the first couple years of school before transferring to a traditional four-year program at a private university. Whether students see community college as a way to figure out a career path or improve their grades so they will get accepted to their dream university, this option seems to make a lot of sense. But for those who take the community college path to save money in the long run, this choice may actually end up costing them more.

Texas Guaranteed (TG), a research group developed by the state's legislature in 1979, used national data to determine whether transfer students actually save money by starting higher education at a community college.

The report, entitled A Brief Look at Transfer Students and Financial Aid, found that the average student nationwide accumulates a debt burden of $20,000 while in school, whether the education is private or public.

At private institutions, however, the report shows that transfer students accumulate $27,000 worth of debt while trying to earn a degree – $2,000 higher than the average amount non-transfer graduates are left with at these kinds of colleges.

"People have this idea that they are somehow going to save money because they go to community college. But it looks like people end up borrowing about the same," Carla Fletcher, a senior research analyst at TG and the report’s author, told the Texas Tribune.

A big reason that costs end up equalling out for transfer and non-transfer students is because of the availability of financial aid. Students who began their college career at a private university are generally offered more grants than transfer students. Because of this, transfer students are required to take out more loans over a shorter period of time, accounting for little savings in the long run.

Students who need help determining what degree path will be most affordable should contact one of the experienced financial aid consultants at College Financing Group.

Category: Financial Aid