The Case for Community Colleges: $55,645.14 Paid, $29,662.93 Till Pay Off

Lively lobbies, Silent Offices

I started my career in academia as a community college Admissions Specialist and later, Academic Advisor. I remember the numbers of students and their families huddled like cattle in lobbies, waiting to discuss class registration.

Once inside my office, scowl-wearing parents with arms crossed, stood directly behind students plopped in chairs with faces buried in their hands.

Too often, community colleges are students’ backup plan for the following reasons:

  1. Not getting into college of choice
  2. Unable to afford college of choice.
  3. Failed out of college of choice.
  4. Not knowing what to do in life.

Universities offer their share of many advantages, the purpose of the blog entry is to help cash-strapped students/families to make informed decisions, and avoid big student loan debt as I incurred.

 

The Case for Community Colleges

  1. The community college offers a smaller class setting. I remember my first class in a university lecture hall of 150 students, it was intimidating.
  • The largest class size at my place of employment, a community college, is maxed at 47.
  • Although many universities may boast this same benefit, these institutions will cost students more.

With smaller class sizes, teachers are able to respond to the needs of students faster. Universities rely heavily on TAs (teacher’s assistant), who are highly competent, but are students themselves with their own academic stresses.

  1. In the wise words of Warren Buffett, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get”. Lately, people in high student loan debt don’t view the price paid for education as highly valuable.
  • As of 2018-2019, a local community college in my area of residence costs $59 per credit hour. Therefore, a 3 and 4 credit hour course will cost $177 and $236 respectively.
  • A university in my state will cost you $1,338 per credit hour this academic year; making 3 and 4 credit hour courses cost $4,014 and $5,352 respectively.

Oh yeah… this doesn’t include prices for books, food, lodging, and transportation. God bless you if you are able to meet this educational request without debt. This is blog is for those who may find this request challenging. Haha!

  1. Universities don’t grow legs and walk away. They will still be there once you complete your desired school’s “Basics”.
  • Basics are classes required for all students regardless of major (English, History, Political Science, Mathematics, Natural and Social Sciences courses). If your student is unsure about their career, basics are a great place to start versus changing majors frequently.
  • Academic advisors have transfer guides needed to transfer work towards your university degree.

Furthermore, bachelor’s degrees are usually 120 credit hours and take 4 years to complete. Community colleges have articulation agreements which allow students to complete 45-60 credit hours, which is equal to the first 2 years of a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, community colleges allow students to complete half of their university requirements at a fraction of the cost.

  1. Scholarships abound for students transferring from community colleges to universities.
  • Hidden gems on community college campuses are the honor societies such as “The National Society of Collegiate Scholars” and “Phi Theta Kappa”.
  • For more information and eligibility criteria:
    https://nscs.org/member-eligibility/

  https://www.ptk.org/About/Membership/Eligibility.aspx

Feel free to visit the “Scholarship Resources” tab of this blog to view other great college funding opportunities.  The first link features resources for my home state, “The Lone Star State”-Texas. Other resources are links to legitimate scholarship search engines and honor societies.

 

Exciting Updates

Below is my student loans update. I am blessed to see the light getting brighter and closer at the end of tunnel. Thank you Jesus Christ for always providing for me in seasons of employment and unemployment, and I am confident you will continue to do so.

Merry Christmas?: $46,370.77 Paid, $38,937.30 Till Pay Off

Image result for christmas hollyWell it’s that time of year again, Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year!  For those of you who are in college or have dependents, remember to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The FAFSA application was made available October 1st and the submission deadline is June 30th.

In Other News:
There have been current rumblings surrounding issues of: 1) Graduate Student Tuition Waivers, 2) Student loan interest and 3) Student Loan forgiveness.
I will do my best to stay out of politics, since I have a difficult time managing my 1 year old.  In short, law makers as represented by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate considered taxing graduate tuition waivers as income.  Understandably, students were unhappy and protested. Thankfully, their voices were heard.  College students don’t make much and I speak from experience. Click here for more from NPR.

Hard Times Were Fun Times:
During my college days, I worked 3 jobs and enrolled as a full-time student.  Money earned was spent attempting to cover tuition.  My usual meals were Chef Boyardee, Ramen, Ensure, and 99 cent double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s.
However, I was blessed to have some meals provided for by a loving elderly couple.  Also, 3 meals a week were provided at the cafeteria through a job as a Resident Assistant.  Man, college sure was fun.

Paying the Tax Man:
Next, lawmakers considered removing the $2,500 student loan interest deduction.  By what I understand, the deduction is not guaranteed. In fact, the amount a tax bill is reduced is based on the tax payer’s income.  So the higher your salary, the less interest deduction can be used; the lower your salary, the better your chances to use the full deduction.  This is the best I can do to explain this, for more information click here.  This interest deduction greatly reduced my tax bill for calendar year 2012, as my career was in its fledgling stages.  To hear more from the IRS click here.

Generational Debt:
I work in education and student loan debt is a concern for young and old. To my surprise, “seasoned” coworkers disclose more than the 20 somethings about financial issues. What I hear mostly is the shame of still paying school debt while having a child in college.

The recent graduates I work with are really hoping for student loan forgiveness. Unfortunately, not many of them are taking advantage of the Income-Based Repayment programs. Although I am currently enrolled in an IBR program, I’m prepared to pay off every penny of debt should loan forgiveness is denied.  Here, CNN gives insight on the current plight of the first group of borrowers who are eligible for loan forgiveness.

Help Is On The Way:

I am grateful for my talks with coworkers as they have been very supportive. Below is an update on my loan balance.

Speaking of college, I am excited to announce there is help out there. It is called the Dallas County Promise.  It is a last dollar tuition scholarship for students in attendance of any Dallas County Community College District campus or participating university.  So far, The University of North Texas-Dallas (UNT-D) and Southern Methodist University (SMU) are participants in this scholarship program.  Follow the link for details and spread the news!