When you think of a “typical” college freshman, the image that comes to mind is a student at a four-year residential school, sharing a small dorm room on an ivy-clad campus, going to football games at the stadium on the weekends. In fact, this stereotype does not reflect the reality of the college experience today.
According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 45% of all U.S. undergraduates attend one of the nation’s 1,132 community colleges. These students live in their communities and commute to school rather than living on campus. Many community college students hold jobs, have families, and are older (median age 24) than students at four-year colleges, with only about a third being under the age of 21. More than half community college students are enrolled part-time, affording them the flexibility to attend to other obligations. Some go into the full-time workforce when they earn an associate’s degree or certificate, and others transfer to a four-year institution to earn their bachelor’s degree.
One of the major reasons why students attend community colleges is because of the rising cost of tuition at both public and private four-year institutions. Compared to four-year public in-state colleges that charged an average of $8,890 for tuition and fees in 2013-14, community college annual tuition and fees were $3,260. In addition, more than half (58%) of students who attend community colleges receive financial aid.
For more community college facts, visit the American Association of Community Colleges website.