There are lots of inexpensive colleges out there where your kids can get the education you want for them — along with the degree and pay grade that come along with it. On the downside, your kids will miss out on some of the “experiences” they might get at a more expensive institution.
Still, for 75% of families today, college tuition is too costly. If this is true, how can inexpensive colleges even be out there? The trick is in knowing where to look — and often, in accepting that inexpensive colleges are the best option for your family.
Inexpensive Colleges: Where to Look
There are three main categories to look at when searching for inexpensive colleges. While it’s common knowledge that state schools (also known as “public universities”) typically offer much more affordable rates to students, there are other options. Keep reading to find out what they are.
According to College Board, the average per-year cost at a 2-year community college is just $2,690. These are the most inexpensive colleges in the country, though the average 2-year community college doesn’t typically offer bachelor’s degrees. This is a major downside, as the associates degrees most community colleges award aren’t typically thought of as highly by hiring managers. However, the silver lining is that some community colleges do offer limited bachelor’s programs, and the option to transfer out of a community college and into a commuter college is often available for good students.
Another less expensive option for students interested in earning a bachelor’s degree is the online college. According to DegreeJungle.com’s list of the most affordable online degrees, it’s possible to complete a bachelor’s at an accredited online institutions for less than $10,000 per year. More expensive, yes, but these are still pretty inexpensive colleges in the grand scheme. Also, a company spokesman tells PerkStreet this price point can drop dramatically when financial aid and scholarships come into play.
“Look for online universities or colleges with a regional or national accreditation. This accreditation, among other positives, qualifies the institution to offer federal aid to its students,” says Brandon Millard from DegreeJungle.com. “Be sure to talk to the school’s admissions department about the types of aid (loans, grants, scholarships) that you could be eligible for.”
It is possible to get the experience of a 4-year college without all the cost. In-state, 4-year colleges are often perfectly suited for commuting to class. If the distance between home and one of these schools is manageable, it’s possible to save plenty by living at home. If you don’t have to pay for room and board, an in-state commuter’s degree will cost about $8,240 plus the cost of books and gas. This actually isn’t all that bad when you consider the same education typically costs an out-of-state student $20,770. This means some of the schools you know as good institutions in your area also fit the description of inexpensive colleges.
Final Thoughts on Inexpensive Colleges
At the end of the day, the most inexpensive colleges where an accredited degree can be earned are going to come from either community colleges, online colleges or commuter schools. Some folks to find success mixing these options, or pulling off the best possible combo: transferring from one of these institutions to a bigger name school — and getting a more impressive diploma without the cost.
A diploma from a school with a better name can make it easier to launch a successful career. Of course, that won’t really help if your course of study ends up leading you astray. A recent study by Rutgers University concluded that 37% of college graduates wish they would have been more careful about selecting a major.
In the end, name on your diploma that matters most is your own. If you can get a degree, and you pick your career path wisely, a good career really may not be out of reach.