Released by The College Board, the average price paid for tuition, fees, and room and board in 2015-2016 was $43,921 at private colleges and $19,548 at public institutions. Along with the rising tuition prices, the balance of outstanding student loans has risen over $1.2 trillion with 40 million borrowers and an average balance of $29,000 (source). With numbers like this, parents who are saving for their child’s higher education may start to wonder, what is the value of attending a 4-year public or private university? And, are there other options?
As technology improves and the definition of a “traditional student” evolves, community colleges are starting to gain traction. Community colleges benefit a wide range of learners varying in age, location and need. Many offer two year programs, some of which can be completed entirely online. These programs make degrees more accessible for individuals who are already in the workforce or need flexible class schedules. By attending a community college, individuals can take advantage of program variety and small class sizes without the price tag of a private or public university.
However, if your student wants the “traditional campus experience”, consider taking a few general classes at a community college close to home over the summer to help reduce overall costs.
Another option is to look internationally to broaden your experience and reduce your costs. Pursuing a degree abroad opens the door to once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities while acquiring marketable cultural skills that short term study abroad programs may not provide. You may also find studies more tailored to your interests or needs, perhaps art history in France or a culinary program in Italy.
Make an appointment with your Certified Financial Planner™ to further discuss your college planning options. If you have already started contributing to a 529 College Savings plan remember that these funds can be used for Community Colleges and 339 schools in foreign countries!