In recent years, major news sites and university publications have highlighted the potential return on investment in an associate’s degree program that students could enjoy as a result of escalating college tuition costs. This remains true today: A two-year degree can lower a student’s initial cost of higher education, whether or not they plan to attend a four-year program in the future. It takes careful planning, but enrollment in a two-year program could make a substantial difference in a student’s overall debt burden as they enter the workforce and begin to pay down the high cost of college attendance incurred in two-year, four-year, or graduate degree programs.
A Great Way to Offset College Tuition Increases
College tuition tends to rise each year at all schools, even community colleges that offer two-year degrees. The major difference, however, is that community colleges are typically funded more generously by states and participating local governments. This allows their tuition levels to be dramatically lower for students who come from a “sponsoring” school district or town within the community college’s service area. In many cases, the cost of attendance at a community college is less than half of the price charged to students who spend their first two undergraduate years as a four-year school. Furthermore, many community college students can afford the cost of tuition using only state grants and the federal Pell Grant program. That means, for some graduates, their degree will come with a complete lack of student debt that must be repaid. That type of financial freedom is hard to come by in today’s economy.
Reduce the Cost of a Four-Year College Degree
In what is becoming an increasingly common degree path for today’s students, it’s possible to enroll at a community college that maintains a “transfer agreement” with local or national universities. At the completion of the two-year course of study, this transfer agreement guarantees that all of a student’s community college credits will transfer to a four-year school. In some cases, a student with an approved transfer agreement is also guaranteed admission to one of the community college’s partner schools.
Here’s why this matters: Students can complete the first two years of their degree at a far more affordable community college, assured that their credits will transfer perfectly to a four-year program. Thanks to lower costs, the expense associated with a bachelor’s degree decreases dramatically. This also means that it’s easier to get a great value for the money in undergraduate education, with a much more generous return on investment (ROI) than students could expect by enrolling in a four-year school for all four years of study.
Two Professional Networks to Use After Graduation
Finally, remember that attending a combination of community college and university classes will give students access to two professional networks full of supportive graduates. In an economy that has sometimes been focused more on who students know than what they have learned, having access to these networks is a great way to land a job and begin enhancing a degree’s ROI immediately.
Great Opportunities Await Associate’s Degree Students
Whether it’s a stepping stone to other programs or a self-contained professional degree, students who opt for a two-year program will benefit from dramatic savings when compared to four-year university programs. This makes it easy to earn a comparatively higher return on investment in an associate’s degree program than in virtually any other type of program.