On November 4, the College Board once again released annual statistics related to certain sectors of higher education. There were some interesting bits of information on American community colleges (CCs) when it comes to student enrollment trends, as 43% of ALL college enrollees are at a community college. In four states, the percentage of students attending a two-year, public program was over 60%. The explosive growth from the early 2000s, however, is now over, with CC enrollment decreasing by 1% from 2010 to 2013.
Average net prices have declined over the past few years for CC students—although, once again, some New England states came in at the highest end of overall costs, with Vermont CC enrollees paying $7,530 and their neighbors in New Hampshire second highest at $6,510. The average is $3,435 for tuition and fees across the two-year public spectrum.
Even though the public two-year sector enrolled disproportionately more low-income students, students in this sector in 2011–12 were least likely to apply for aid, with 61% having applied for federal aid. In other sectors, more than 70% of undergraduate students applied for federal aid in 2011–12. Over 60% of all CC enrollees also have a family income of less than $65K, whereas 40% of students attending a four-year private school fell into the same income bracket.
In 2013–14, community college students received 36% of all Pell Grant disbursements but only 23% of the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) funds available. The good news with federal loans is that only 7% needed the unsubsidized Stafford Loan and just 1% needed PLUS Loans to fill budgetary gaps. Almost 60% of all two-year graduates are leaving school with zero federal debt. Completion rates have remained stagnant—if this rate were to improve, it would be good news as far as ensuring that those attending are getting the most out of the classes and degree that they have earned, and would keep default rates low as well. Community colleges still serve a wonderful purpose, educating the public at a fairly competitive, low-cost rate.
December 3, 2015
By: Jeff Megargell, HEAG Consultant