Why Community College Is a Better Option Than You Think
Avoiding paying room and board for college (if you live at home instead of renting an apartment since there usually aren’t dorms at community colleges) is another cost-saving measure.
In 2017-18, the average tuition and fees for a full-time student at public two-year institutions nationally was $3,570, compared with $9,970 (in-state) at public four-year colleges and $34,740 at private universities, according to the College Board. After federal financial aid, 71 percent of community college students pay less than $1,000. Some states are beginning to make community college free through specific scholarship programs: New York, Oregon, Tennessee, and most recently, Rhode Island.
You could be one of millions of students attending college practically for free, if you consider attending a community college.
A Good Option for Exploring Different Majors or Choosing a Career Off the Bat
Community college can be an especially good fit if you don’t know what career you want to pursue. At a community college, you can take a variety of courses at a low cost in different academic disciplines to help you figure out what you want to ultimately major in, if you plan to transfer.
What community colleges are known for is offering programs that are connected to the needs of the local economy. Associate degrees can be earned to enter the workforce right away after two years of study. Popular degrees like dental hygiene ($72,910 average salary), diagnostic medical sonography ($68,970 average salary), nursing (to become a registered nurse at an average starting salary of $66,640) are all available. If you want to start a career sooner than the average college graduate, a community college may be a good fit.
Guaranteed Admission and Seamless Transfer to Four-Year Colleges
Don’t like taking tests? Community colleges don’t require entrance exams like the SAT. Nearly anyone can take a class at a community college simply by registering for class.
If you know you may want to transfer to a state university, you can take many of the four-year required courses at a community college cheaper than at a state university. Most community colleges have agreements with state universities to help make a transfer seamless and not lose college credits in the process.
A great advantage of attending some community colleges is guaranteed transfer to a state university when certain requirements are met (usually a GPA requirement). States like Arizona, California, Hawaii, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Virginia have agreements in which community college students are guaranteed admission to state universities, if they meet the requirements.
For example, Northern Virginia Community College has a guaranteed admission agreement to 40 universities, if a certain GPA and other requirements are met. To show how this is advantageous, here is a scenario: say you want to attend the University of Virginia(UVA), one of the top public universities in the country. If you attended a community college for the first two years and earned a certain GPA, you would be automatically guaranteed admission to UVA, but you would pay $5,497 per year for the first two years of college instead of $30,490 per year for the same first two years. You’ve just saved nearly $50,000 ($49,986 to be exact)!
And you might not even have to leave your community college campus to transfer to another institution to earn your bachelor’s degree. FSU@Mass Bay — a partnership between Framingham State University (FSU) and Massachusetts Bay Community College, both in the Boston area — enables students to stay at the community college to finish a bachelor’s degree with FSU professors who come to the Mass Bay campus. In Texas, the Lone Star College System has agreements with several universities that offer bachelor’s and master’s degree programs on two of their community college campuses designated as Learning Centers — so you could “transfer” and stay in the local area or even the same campus to earn a bachelor’s degree. Innovative programs like these are popping up, so pay attention to the local degree programs in your area.
You can also potentially transfer to a private college or university — even an Ivy League institution like Yale or Harvard — after attending a community college. Did you know that Eileen Collins, the first woman astronaut to command a space shuttle mission, attended a community college? The sky is the limit!
A Solid Education — and Often Flexible Scheduling
Community college courses are taught by professors who have the same educational background as professors who teach at four-year colleges and universities. In fact, at many universities, students are taught by teaching assistants who are graduate students rather than professors with graduate degrees. The rigor in a community college class is oftentimes the same as another nearby institution. What is attractive to many students is that many community colleges have classes at more flexible times than a typical college. In addition to daytime classes, community colleges usually offer many evening classes as well as classes on weekends and online and sometimes hybrid classes in which you take part of the course in a classroom and part of the course online.
Services Comparable to a Typical College
Just like a four-year college, community college has services to help students succeed, including career services, academic assistance like tutoring and writing centers, clubs, honors program, specialized internships with local employers, and even study abroad.
Student life on a community college can be bustling despite not living on campus like at a four-year college. For instance, in South Florida, Miami Dade College, the country’s largest community college, manages the Miami International Film Festival. And in California, RCC Marching Tigers or “Hollywood’s Band” is the marching band of Riverside City College that has appeared in parades such as the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as well as in movies and on television.
Get a Jump Start on College in High School with Dual Enrollment
Did you know that you can earn college credits while you are still in high school? Nationwide 15% of all community college students are still in high school, according to a recent report.
Dual enrollment, or taking college classes while still in high school, can save you money if credits are transferred when you enroll in college. It can also allow you to decide whether or not you would like to attend a community college or apply to four-year colleges. Whatever you decide, consider your local college options—including community colleges—in your college search. You may find the right place for you and pay a lot less!
Find a community college in your state.
So you can take advantage of our Guaranteed transfer agreements and complete your bachelor’s degree at a 4 year college or university
Register for a workshop by email:Careerandtransfer@germanna.edu
Thursday, June 9 – 1:00pm – Fredericksburg Campus, SP1, Room 228
Thursday, June 23 – 5:00pm –Fredericksburg Campus, SP1, Room 228
Monday, July 18 – 10:00am – Fredericksburg Campus, SP1, Room 228
Tuesday, August 9 – 1:00pm – Fredericksburg Campus – SP1, Room 228
Germanna Community College at the Library!
Meet with representatives to learn about: Becoming a Germanna student, financial aid, transitioning to college, veteran benefits, and career services
Apply on the spot!
Thursday, June 9, 3:00pm – 6:00pm – Porter Branch
Monday, July 11 – 3:00pm – 7:00pm – Salem Church Branch
Tuesday, August 2 – 10:00am – 2:00pm – Porter Branch
No registration necessary!
VFCCE Scholarships & Funds
Virginia Foundation for Community College Education Scholarships
The mission of the VFCCE is to provide access to education for all Virginians. Through the statewide scholarship program, students have the opportunity to apply for scholarships ranging from $1000 to $10,000. The VFCCE recognizes outstanding students of all ages and backgrounds. Statewide scholarship programs are outlined below. Additional scholarship opportunities are offered directly through Virginia’s 23 community colleges.
More than 65 students were awarded scholarships this past year. To be eligible for a VFCCE scholarship, a student must be a Virginia resident who is enrolled or plans to enroll at one of Virginia’s 23 community colleges. Scholarship applications for the 2016 – 2017 academic year are due May 16, 2016. Please visit the scholarship portal for more details on each scholarship and to apply.
Click here to see our scholarship recipients for 2015-2016
Potomac Health Foundation Fellows Program
The Potomac Health Foundation Fellows Program provides up to $8,000 in financial assistance and a unique leadership curriculum to second-year students who demonstrate a preference to pursue a career in a health care field/setting that involves direct patient care or a career that supports healthy communities such as health care administration or medical research. Applicants must attend Germanna or Northern Virginia Community College full-time and reside in the following zip codes: 20112, 22025, 22026, 22079, 22125, 22134, 22172, 22191, 22192, 22193, 22554, and 22556.
Valley Proteins Fellows Program
For the fifth year, extraordinary second-year students attending a Virginia Community College will be selected for the Valley Proteins Fellows Program. This prestigious scholarship will award up to $5,000 for tuition, books, fees and expenses. In addition to the generous award, the Fellows Program will provide recipients with the opportunity to share in special experiences to enhance their academic and leadership potential.
Laurens Sartoris Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship
Funded through the support of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association in honor of Laurens “Larry” Sartoris, former president of VHHA and former chair of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. The scholarship provides financial assistance to admitted nursing students attending Virginia’s Community Colleges.
Gerald Baliles Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship
Scholarships will be awarded to first-time college students at Patrick Henry Community College to recognize Governor Gerald Baliles’ many contributions to the improvement of education for all Virginians, through the Patrick Henry Educational Foundation. For additional information and to apply for this scholarship, visit the Patrick Henry website. The deadline to apply for this scholarship is May 31, 2016.
Kathy Camper Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship
One scholarship will be awarded to a first-time or second year student pursuing a career in information technology or childhood education.
John T. Casteen III Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship
Two scholarships will be awarded to a full-time community college student attending any Virginia Community College who plans to transfer to the University of Virginia.
Eva T. Hardy Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship
Three scholarships will be awarded to community college students who demonstrate potential for public service and civic leadership.
Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Scholarship
Established by the Central VA Chapter of IREM to assist students pursuing studies in real estate or property management, one scholarship will be awarded to students attending a college in Central Virginia: Blue Ridge, Central Virginia, Dabney S. Lancaster, Danville, Germanna, J. Sargeant Reynolds, John Tyler, Lord Fairfax, New River, Patrick Henry, Paul D. Camp, Piedmont Virginia, Rappahannock, Southside Virginia, Virginia Highlands, Virginia Western and Wytheville.
Michael A. Smith Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship
Created with a generous leadership gift from Valley Proteins, Inc. along with numerous friends, family, business associates and students to honor Michael Smith, former chairman of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE). Three scholarships will be awarded to first-year community college students.
ACG Richmond Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship
One scholarship will be awarded to a student at John Tyler Community College who is pursuing a business degree. For more information or to apply for this scholarship, please visit the John Tyler Community College website. The deadline to apply for this scholarship is April 15, 2016.
The Eleanor Saslaw Commonwealth Legacy Scholarships
Through the generosity of Eleanor Saslaw, a scholarship will be awarded to a student attending Patrick Henry Community College. For more information or to apply for this scholarship, please visit the Patrick Henry Community College website. The deadline to apply for this scholarship is May 31, 2016
The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education is grateful to our friends and donors who are helping our students attend college and achieve their dreams. Thank you!
For more information, contact:
The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education
300 Arboretum Place, Suite 200 (Note new address!)
Richmond, VA 23236
Dr. Jennifer Sager Gentry
Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement
Director of Development and Scholarships
8 Ways to Prep for College Applications over Spring Break
Spring break can be a prime time to prep for a standout college application, and prevent stress closer to application deadlines. Use this much-needed vacation from school to consider what you really want out of college, and what you still need to do to get there.
Start Drafting Your College List
Do some soul searching over spring break to figure out what you want from your prospective colleges. Is your best fit college known for its chemistry department? Does it host a thriving theater scene? Talking to a college counselor about your dreams and goals can help you identify what’s important to you as you make your preliminary college list.
College Road Trip
A college website or brochure is no substitute for talking with actual students, visiting the science labs, sitting in on lectures, or grabbing lunch in the cafeteria. Make a plan to tour some of the schools that you are considering, and see if any of them could feel like home.
Make Time for Extracurriculars
Colleges want to know what you do with your spare time so that they can get a sense of who you are. This Spring Break try something new or investigate a career goal or study interest. Are you destined for a life in medicine? Shadow an RN for the week or volunteer for a local organization. Prove to colleges that your commitment to extracurricular activities isn’t tied to the school calendar.
Brainstorm for Your Application Essays
The 2016-17 Common App essay prompts are out. Plan topics for your personal statements by reflecting on the activities you care about. What are the aspects of your background, personality, and interests that make you unique? Who are the people who have influenced you? What experiences have challenged you?
Prep for the ACT or SAT
Whether you try some practice questions, review geometry concepts, or take a prep course, you’ll thank yourself later if you study now! Improving your score by a hundred points on the SAT or even one point on the ACT can significantly boost your chances of admission at many schools.
Look into Financial Aid
Cast a wide net in your search for grants and scholarships. Dedicate some time this break to researching scholarships, including application deadlines and eligibility requirements.
Pick Your Senior Year Classes
Yes, your classes and grades still matter your senior year. Choosing honors and AP classes when you can shows schools that you are serious about college-level work. Plus, high scores on AP exams can help you graduate college early and save you money on tuition.
Make Summer Plans
Summer counts! Whether you take a job as a camp counselor, practice your Spanish in Guatemala, or prep for the ACT/SAT, your summer activities can strengthen your overall application.
As a Career Coach, I am often asked what a financial term means. As you complete forms for aid, you may find yourself having to learn a whole new language. I have compiled this glossary of terms to help you along the way.
Academic Year: The time during which school is in session, typically from September through May.
Accreditation: Accreditation ensures a college or school meets certain minimum quality academic standards, as defined by an accrediting body recognized by the US Department of Education. Only accredited schools can participate in federal student aid programs.
Assets: Assets, when referenced in the FAFSA, refer to income, checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds, trusts, material goods, and investment or vacation real estate. Do not include your primary residence or retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401Ks, under FAFSA assets.
Award Letter: An official notice from a school’s financial aid office that details all the aid awarded to the student. If you decide to attend that school, you must return a signed copy of the letter indicating whether you accept or decline each type of aid.
Award Year: The school year for which the financial aid is requested or awarded.
Base Year: The tax year prior to the award year for which you’re requesting financial aid.
Cost of Attendance (COA): The total cost of attending a particular school, including tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, loan fees, childcare, and personal expenses. COA for a specific school may differ depending on whether the student lives on- or off-campus, is married or unmarried, or from in- or out-of-state. The COA allows students to budget college expenses accurately.
CSS Profile: Some private colleges and universities use the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile to determine whether a student is eligible for non-federal loans.
Department of Education (DOE): The federal agency that establishes financial aid programs and processes the FAFSA form.
Deferment: A temporary period, common in federal loan programs, when a borrower is not required to make loan payments. In the case of deferred student loans, such as Stafford and Perkins loans, the student begins loan payments at a point in time after graduation.
Custodial Parent: When parents are divorced or separated, the parent with whom the student lived the most time in the past year is considered the custodial parent and the parent who fills out the FAFSA.
Dependent: A student is considered a dependent if he lives with his parents and depends on them for more than half of his living expenses.
Direct Loan: A federal, low-interest loan administered by the college or university.
Disbursement: The time when loan funds are released to the college and/or the student.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The contribution the student and/or family are expected to make toward education expenses. It’s a calculation based on the information filed in the FAFSA. Schools use the EFC to calculate a student’s eligibility for financial aid from that institution.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): A free form you submit to the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) at the Department of Education. It collects information about student and family finances, which the FSA uses to determine a student’s eligibility for financial aid.
Federal Pell Grant: Federal grants awarded to students with significant financial need, and which do not repayment.
Federal Student Aid Office (FSA): The entity within the Department of Education that processes the FAFSA.
Financial Aid Offer: The total amount of aid a school offers you. Sometimes called “Financial Aid Package.”
Financial Aid Office: The office at a college or university responsible for making financial aid award decisions and communicating with and assisting students and families.
Financial Aid Package: The total amount of aid a school offers each student. Sometimes called “Financial Aid Award.”
Financial Need: The difference between a school’s cost of attendance and the family’s expected contribution. It’s how much each student needs in financial aid dollars to be able to afford a specific school.
Financial Aid: Money awarded to help a student pay for the cost of higher education. Financial aid comes in many forms, including loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study.
Financial Aid Administrator (FAA): Also called Financial Aid Officers, Financial Aid Advisors, and Financial Aid Counselors, these are the college or university employees who work with families to award and administer financial aid.
Fixed Interest Rate: A loan interest rate that remains the same throughout the life of the loan.
Gift Aid: Financial aid, such as grants and scholarships, which the student does not need to repay.
Grace Period: The time period, usually six to nine months, between a student’s graduation and when he or she must begin repaying student loans.
Grant: A type of financial aid award that does not have to be repaid.
Independent Student: A student who meets any of the following criteria:
- 24 years or older
- A graduate or professional student
- Has legal dependents
- A veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
- An orphan or ward of the court
Institutional Methodology (IM): A formula colleges use to determine how to allocate the school’s own financial aid funds (versus federal funds), based on need.
Interest Rate: The cost of borrowing money. Student loan interest rates are generally lower than standard loan rates.
Lender: The bank or lending institution from which you take out a loan.
Loan: A type of financial aid that the student must promise to repay with interest.
Merit-Based Financial Aid: Financial aid, usually scholarships, that is not calculated based on need, but rather on academic, athletic, or artistic merit.
Need Analysis: The process of determining a student’s financial need, which typically begins when the FAFSA is filed.
Need-Based Financial Aid: Aid, such as most federal aid, that is awarded based on financial need.
Need-Blind Admissions: An admissions process used by most schools that does not consider the student’s ability to pay. The objective is to eliminate admissions decisions based on whether a student needs financial aid or not.
Net Cost: The difference between a school’s cost of attendance and the financial aid package. The net cost includes all financial aid, such as loans, versus the out-of-pocket cost, which includes only need-based aid. Families should evaluate financial aid awards using the out-of-pocket cost, not net cost, of attending that institution.
Parent Contribution (PC): Unless you’re an independent student, the federal government expects your family to contribute to the cost of your education. The PC is an estimate based on parental income, assets, and other criteria.
Out-of-Pocket Cost: The difference between a school’s cost of attendance and the need-based financial aid package. It indicates the amount the family will need to pay out of savings, income, and loans. Out-of-pocket costs can vary greatly between colleges, depending on how much need is met with grants versus loans. Families should evaluate financial aid awards using the out-of-pocket cost of attending each institution
Parent PLUS Loan: A federally guaranteed loan program that lends credit-worthy parents funds to pay for educational expenses. These loans have a fixed, 7.9% interest rate.
Pell Grant: A form of federal financial aid available mostly to undergraduate students, which does not have to be repaid. Grant amounts depend on student need, school costs, and other criteria, up to a maximum of $5,500 per academic year.
Selective Service Registration: Males ages 18 to 25 must register for the military draft in order to qualify for federal financial aid.
Scholarship: A form of financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Scholarships are often restricted to students in specific courses of study or with academic, athletic, or artistic talent. Schools, non-profit organizations and private entities award them.
Stafford Loan: A federal loan available to undergraduate and graduate students attending college at least half-time. These fixed rate loans, are the most common and one of the lowest-cost ways of paying for school.
Student Aid Report (SAR): The official summary of your FAFSA information, indicating your eligibility for financial aid. The FSA sends the SAR via email a few days after you complete the FAFSA, or by mail within 10 days of filing.
Student Contribution: The amount of money the federal government expects the student to contribute to the cost of education. This amount is included in the EFC and may include a portion of student savings and student work earnings.
Unmet Need: Schools can’t always provide each student with the difference between their ability to pay and the cost of attending the institution. When schools award less financial aid than the student needs, the gap is called “unmet need.”
Variable Interest Rate: A loan rate that can fluctuate during the life of the loan, but usually only up to a set amount within a certain period of time.
Work Study: A federal program that provides part-time jobs for students, allowing them to earn money to pay education expenses.
- Gratitude Initiative’s Online College Success Academy for Military Students Students in 8th – 11th grade are eligible to apply for the program if they have a parent who meets one of the following criteria: Active duty member of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, Veteran honorably discharged from active duty on or after 9/11/200, Reserve or National Guard member who was activated for active duty service since 9/11/2001 and was deployed to a combat zone, A combat wounded or disabled veteran with a service connected injury that occurred on or after 9/11/2001, A service member killed on active duty. Students and families can learn more and apply online here. The number of students enrolled each year is limited based on available funding and the number of qualified applicants.
When the President of the United States announces a National College Application Month, it’s time to step up and make things happen. Here’s a collection of tips, gathered by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, for high school students and community college students looking to transfer.
Starting Strategically in High School:
- 5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Freshman Year of High School
- Preparing for College: What 11th and 12th Graders Should be Doing Now
- The Ins and Outs of the ACT and SAT
- Volunteering in Your Community
- Exploring Dual Enrollment Programs
Understanding Your Needs:
- 4 Tips for Finding a Mentor and Making the Most of Your Time Together
- Five Tips for First-Generation Hopefuls to Discuss College Plan with Their Parents
- Connecting Native American Students to Competitive Colleges and Universities
- 5 Ways Students Can Get Ahead in a Rural Community
Narrowing Your College List:
- Don’t Let Application Fees Dictate Your College List
- 3 Reasons Talented, Low-Income Students Should Apply to Top Schools
- 10 Questions to Help You Determine the Right College Fit
- Video: Making Your College Decision: What to Consider
- Video: How to Find a College That’s Right for You
Attention-Grabbing Application Advice:
- 10 Tips to Help Your College Application Stand Out
- 10 Tips for Writing Powerful College Application Essays
- 10 Tips for Brainstorming Great Personal Statement Topics
- Getting Great Letters of Recommendation
- Make Your Stories Pop: 10 College Application Essay Guiding Questions