How Much Does Community College Cost?

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$ State Residents: $7,500-$25,000+ Annual Costs $ $ Out-of-State Students: $12,000-$35,000+ Annual Costs

Sometimes called junior, technical or city college, the community college is typically a public institution which is offering college-level classes, enrichment and vocational programs in local, smaller, and less expensive setting compared to the traditional four-year colleges and universities.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges states that there are 1,132 community colleges in the United States; where 986 are public, 115 are independent,, and 31 are tribal.

Typical Costs

The tuition and costs for the full-time community college with two 15-unit semesters goes between $1,000 and $12,000 per year for state residents, and $4,000-$30,000 or more per year for out-of-state students, based on the location, school, and the program of study.

The tuition and fees at community colleges in Texas for 2013-2014, for example, are $1,630-$6,153 for state residents and $4,150-$16,683 for out-of-state students, which makes an average cost of $2,394 for Texas residents and $6,322 for nonresidents.

The tuition and fees at the Century College in White Bear Lake, MN, for two 15-unit semesters total $5,356 for general classes, $5,540 for dental hygiene courses and $5,846 for the nursing program.

However, tuition is just one of the many college expenses.

That is why to award financial aid and scholarships; the school should predict the so-called “cost of attendance” for a typical student for a full academic year, estimated on tuition and fees; books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses.

The community colleges COA varies from $7,500-$25,000 for state residents, and $12,000-$35,000 for out-of-state students, based on the location the student lives (with their parents/relatives or on their own), and the local cost of living.

Santa Barbara City College in California, for example, estimates 2013-2014 costs of $1,378 tuition and fees; $1,710 books and supplies; $4,518 room and board for living with relatives and $11,268 for living away from home.

There is a plus of $2,844-$3,096 for personal expenses; and $1,180-$1,324 for transportation, which makes a total COA of $11,822 for students living at home and $18,524 for away from home; for out-of-state students, the COA is $17,758 if living with relatives and $24,460 for out-of-state students living on their own.

At the same time in Texas,, the average COA for 2013-2014 is $14,921-$16,275 for Texas residents and $18,841 for out-of-state students.

According to information from the American Association of Community Colleges, two-thirds of community college students nationwide attend part-time.

Tuition for state residents typically costs $45-$250 or more per credit unit/hour, or $135-$750 for a standard three-unit class.

The students who are out-of-district or out-of-state pay a tuition of $100-$550 or more per credit unit, or $300-$1,650 to take one three-unit class.

The additional mandatory fees per-student plus other costs like lab fees or a parking permit can add $25-$200 or more to the total cost for part-time students, depending on the school.

Most of the community colleges provide an online net price calculator, which allows students and parents to enter basic information and receive a rough estimate of the total amount they might have to pay after receiving the typical grant and scholarship aid, based on their circumstances.

Such price net calculator is available at the Community College of Philadelphia.

What Is Included

  • In general, the community colleges are outcome-oriented towards career employment or transfer to a four-year university, according to Mott Community College in Flint, MI.
  • Many community colleges offer vocational certificate programs, two-year associate degrees and college-level classes that satisfy the general requirements for the first two years at a four-year university.
  • Other community colleges offer classes for local high school students who want college-level classes and adult education programs.
  • In general, the community colleges cost less and offer smaller classes, more night classes and more flexible scheduling options than most four-year universities.
  • The community colleges can also have a more limited curriculum and a less-active campus life.
  • provides a lost with the pros and cons of community colleges.


A variety of financial aid programs is available for community college students.

The US Department of Education provides an overview of federal programs.

There are offices for college’s financial aid that can provide information on the available state, local and private assistance, including grants and scholarships.

Shopping for Community College

  • Check the local community colleges through the American Association of Community Colleges.
  • The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation provides all factors to consider when choosing a college.
  • The National Center for Education Statistics offers an online college navigator to locate potential schools by types of degrees and campus setting, size of enrollment, etc.

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