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Why Go To Community College? Financial Benefits of Community College

More and more students are beginning their college careers with a two-year degree at community college, and then transferring to a four-year institution. Why?

“We find there are a lot of reasons students choose to start their college life here,” says Angela Johnson, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) in Ohio. “Saving money is a great benefit, but academic preparation is also a reason many students choose to start at Tri-C first.”

For Angelita Bennett, Tri-C is a family tradition. She graduated with her associate’s degree in 2012. An uncle and her sister did the same years earlier, and now both of her daughters are attending. And, in each case, Tri-C was just the beginning of a successful college education.

Bennett went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and her oldest daughter will soon start at Cleveland State University to work on her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. “Tri-C has been great to my family,” says Bennett.

An Affordable Pathway to Success

Beginning a college career at a community college makes sense for many families, and — with the lowest tuition cost in the state of Ohio — Tri-C is often a smart choice.

In fact, says Johnson, students who earn an associate’s degree are more likely to also complete a 4-year degree than students who begin their college careers at a 4-year school. They’ll also save tens of thousands of dollars.

For example, a student attending Tri-C can save more than $7,000 a year over an in-state public university and $30,000 to $40,000 annually over a private college. “Finances might not be the first reason students or parents consider coming to Tri-C, but it definitely factors into the end benefit,” notes Johnson.

The Benefits of Dual Enrollment

Bennett first sent her oldest daughter Angel – a rising 9th grader at the time – to Tri-C through the College Credit Plus (CCP) dual-enrollment program. Dual enrollment allows students to simultaneously earn high school and college credit on select courses.

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Angel, who was homeschooled, learned about the CCP program and approached her mother with the opportunity. “Having personally gone to Tri-C, I knew the campus and the teachers. It felt like family. It seemed like a great opportunity for her.”

Angel wants to become a pediatrician, and with years of schooling ahead of her, the financial benefits of starting at Tri-C were also clear to her mom. “I didn’t really think about the cost benefits at first,” notes Bennett. Then I said, ‘Wait a minute: this money we’ve been saving for college we can now save for what’s next.’ It really will help a lot.”

Transfer Agreements Help with “What’s Next”

Tri-C helps set students up for what’s next with Transfer Centers at each of their four campuses. At each center, designated transfer specialists help students navigate their college paths from day one. “Students work with specialists to develop their individual transfer plans so that, term by term, they make the right decisions for their goals,” says Johnson.

Tri-C also has articulation agreements in place with many universities in the state; these agreements guarantee that student credits earned at Tri-C will transfer. For the Bennetts, this means that Angel’s credits can easily be applied to her degree goals at Cleveland State. “It creates a seamless transition between the two largest higher education institutions in Cleveland. The goal is to improve college access and academic success,” says Johnson.

Personal Attention, Personal Growth

Students also benefit from more time to grow and mature—learning skills they need to thrive in college. As part of the Tri-C experience, free tutoring, mentoring, and overall academic preparation services help teens develop themselves as students and young adults.

That was certainly Bennett’s personal experience. “I have to give it to Tri-C. When I left high school, I was not prepared. I graduated from high school with honors, but I still wasn’t prepared. When I left Tri-C, they overprepared me. They had me ready for what was next.”

Starting your college career at a pace and place that’s designed for maximum student success—while saving a bundle on tuition? What’s not to love.

Julie Grippo Schuler lives in Medina, Ohio with her high school son and middle school daughter.

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