Four Year Colleges vs. Community Colleges
Breakthrough Collaborative Five Year Goal: 85% of students enter four year colleges or universities.
Why does Breakthrough emphasize four year colleges and universities? Should Breakthrough programs steer students to use community colleges as “stepping stones” toward bachelor’s degrees?
Would community colleges be cheaper for students? Does it matter where students start their post‐secondary educations, as long as they end up with bachelor’s degrees?
It is true that once students have their bachelor’s degrees, it makes little difference, in terms of earnings potential and job prospects, what path they took to get there. However, the likelihood of earning a bachelor’s degree is significantly reduced if a student starts her post‐secondary education at a community college, and the amount of time it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree (and potentially, the amount of loans a student accrues) is greatly increased. Additionally, research shows that the kinds of students Breakthrough serves—low‐income, minority, first generation—are less likely to transfer from community colleges to four‐year colleges and earn bachelor’s degrees. Therefore, the research supports the fact that students are more likely to complete bachelor’s degrees if they start their post‐ secondary educations at four‐year colleges or universities.
Is community college more cost-effective?
Without factoring in financial aid, the average tuition and fees at community college is less than half of the average tuition and fees at a public four‐year institution and 1/10th of the tuition and fees at a private four year institution. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual tuition and fees in 2006‐07 was:
• $2,017 ‐in‐state student attending a community college • $5,685 ‐ full‐time, in‐state student at a public four year college or university • $20,492 ‐ full time student at a private four year college and...
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