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Community college students cut costs

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While many students cannot wait to move into their college dorms, those who choose to stay home and go to community college may be more financially sound in the long run.

“If I would have gone to Grand Rapids Community College first, it would have saved me $30,000,” Charlene Robson said.

Charlene Robson is a 23-year-old Michigan State University graduate.  She worked very hard to get her finance degree, but it came at a huge price.  After Robson graduated, she discovered that she had about $80,000 in student loan debt.

“The difficult part is finding a job in my field,” she said. “It seems to require three years experience, or the entry level jobs do not pay enough to pay off my student loans.”

Until she can find the career she is looking for to pay off the loans, Robson plans to continue working her two jobs, one job as a waitress and another as a bank teller.

GRCC may not be the college most high school graduates dream about going to, but when students crunch the numbers, sometimes it is the best financial choice.  Four out of ten graduated high school students start at a community college, according to the National College Board. Tuition and fees at a community college average less than half of those at public four year college and one- tenth of private four year colleges.

Two year colleges are the largest and fastest growing in higher education.  There are 1,600 community colleges across the United States serving 11 million students.  Not only is community college a great way to save money but some other great advantages are smaller class sizes.  A community college class size on average is 25 to 30 students, whereas the average class size at a big university is 100 to 200.  Community college also gives more time for students to define their major.  Two out of three students change their major at least once during their college career.

Ashley Brower is a 21-year-old undergrad senior at Grand Valley State University, but she was not always at GVSU.  She originally started out at GRCC where she fulfilled her general education requirements.

“GRCC saved me about $10,000 in two years, and I took the same classes I would have had to take at GVSU,” Brower said.

Brower figured out that by the time she graduates, she will have $9,000 in student loans.  After she graduates, Ashley plans to find a career in special education.  Until then, she is a full-time student working as a bartender and waitress.

“In the end, your future workplace is just looking at having a degree, and you can get that whether you go to community college for two years or not,” Robson said.

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