Community colleges can save students money, but those who attend are often less likely to complete their degrees, said Keith Ickes, associate vice president for Administrative Services at CSU.
“It’s a very different situation,” Ickes said. “There are some hazards in going that route with your education.”
The American Council on Education recently released a study that showed that in the last ten years, only eight percent of students attending a two-year college ultimately ended up receiving a bachelor’s degree. Conversely, 51 percent of students who began their education at a four-year college completed their degree.
However, according to officials at Aims Community College in Loveland and Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, enrollment at community colleges has increased considerably over the last few years.
“We’ve started seeing growth in the number of students that take two years and then transfer,” said Sandy Reynolds, coordinator of campus services at Aims. “I think a lot of that has been cost.”
Kay Hood, department chair for counseling at Front Range, agreed.
“Money is often a major reason why they start here,” Hood said. “A lot of them are from in town and their intent is to ultimately be at CSU.”
Enrollment at Front Range has increased by 900 students this spring.
One year of tuition at a community college averages about $1,930, Ickes said. In-state students at CSU pay $2,655 in tuition per year.
Both Aims and Front Range have guidelines for students to make sure all their credits from community college will transfer to CSU.
“We know exactly what transfers,” Hood said. “Also, if students have a complete community college degree, they have a defined status when they get to Colorado State.”
Amanda Hack, a junior history major, received her associate’s degree in liberal arts from Aims Community College in Greeley and transferred to CSU as a junior in fall 2002. She began her college education at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley but transferred to Aims to save money.
“It was the best way for me to complete my first two years without going into debt,” Hack said. “It was way cheaper and I really did not want to take out student loans.”
She appreciated the fact that her degree transferred as a whole, instead of having to make sure every class was approved.
“CSU and Aims have a really good transfer system,” Hack said. “It was an easy transition.”