Cost-Cutting Fever: Affluent Students Choose Community Colleges

Barry Lenson

Cost-Cutting Fever: Affluent Students Choose Community Colleges

Affluent Students Choose Community Colleges“A recent national survey by Sallie Mae, the student loan giant, has found that 22 percent of students from households earning $100,000 or more attended community colleges in the 2010-11 academic year, up from 12 percent in the previous year. It was the highest rate reported in four years of surveys.”

-          Source: “Two-year colleges draw more affluent students” by Daniel de Vise, The Washington Post, November 2, 2011 

Wealthier kids have started to enroll in community colleges. Why shouldn’t they? Nobody has money to burn today, not even rich people. As you have probably noticed, wealthy people like things that represent good value, like good solid shoes, L.L. Bean chino pants, islands off the coast of Maine and now – community colleges.

We saw the first indication of this educational trend two years ago, when state universities across the country saw a dramatic increase in the number of students who were applying for admission. Many of these applicants were the children of well-to-do parents who had just lost their jobs in the recession. Instead of applying to Tufts, for example, these students were turning to the University of Massachusetts, and similar choices were being nationwide. In 2009, The New York Times reported that applications at some of the SUNY schools had jumped 12% over the previous year, and transfer applications to Oregon State had jumped 31%.

But now, apparently, wealthier people have discovered that community colleges represent good value too. As we have written before on this blog, going to a community college for a year or two, and then transferring to a regular four-year college, is a great way to cut college costs now that private colleges cost about $50,000 a year.

Taking online college courses and then matriculating at a regular college is another cost-saving alternative. Apparently, wealthy families have yet to discover this approach. But since they probably will, the best time to start taking online college courses is probably now.

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