Are you on the lookout for affordable academic opportunities? The cheapest community colleges don’t have to be the least worthwhile. This article will provide you with the ultimate list of low-cost community colleges you need to consider as the next step of your education.
Community colleges are higher education institutions that aim to prepare students for entry-level positions in different careers. However, some students decide to continue their education at traditional universities after graduating.
Whatever the motivation, there are several advantages of attending a community college, such as lower tuition costs, flexible schedules, and a chance to explore different career paths.
Cheapest Community College in the USA
According to Community College Review’s statistics, the average annual tuition cost for out-of-state students attending community colleges in 2022 is $8,937. Even though it is about half of what it costs to enroll in a private college, some students can’t afford this price.
For this reason, high school grads spend hours and hours looking for a community college with the right curriculum within their budget. The tuition cost in the following colleges is below the average, but it pays for high-quality education. Consider adding these colleges to your shortlist.
Houston Community College
The first entry on our cheap community colleges list would be a great choice for students with any kind of aspiration. HCC provides education in eight areas of study, with over 100 different programs that lead to a degree, diploma, or certificate. Moreover, there are suitable options for students who want to join the workforce after college or continue studying at a university.
The estimated tuition cost for 15 credit hours for out-of-state students is about $3,400. HCC is a large institution of higher education with a very high acceptance rate. In 2022, 80,184 students enrolled in it, 3,151 of which were international.
Another one of the cheapest community colleges on our list is located in Texas, though Panola is a significantly smaller institution. Nevertheless, it has a high acceptance rate and provides academic studies in liberal arts or fields such as nursing or health sciences. Additionally, it offers several technical and professional programs.
The out-of-state tuition fees at the college are among the lowest in the country. The cost for a typical 15-credit-hour semester is $495, or $990 for the whole year, while the estimated total annual price is $2,925.
East Mississippi Community College
In addition to being one of the cheapest community colleges in the USA, EMCC was also ranked 12th in SmartAsset’s best community college rankings for 2020. It provides 48 career and technical programs students can enroll in and a fantastic 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
The cost for a semester with 15–19 credit hours is $1,750, though out-of-state and international students pay an additional $1,500. So while it’s not the least expensive option on the list, it is still very affordable, especially considering the quality of education EMCC offers.
West Valley College
Out of all 115+ community colleges in California, West Valley is the only one that made our cheapest community college list. That’s because there are a few advantages to attending it besides its reasonable price.
For example, West Valley College has a wide range of classes from five areas of study and provides over 50 different programs. Next, the average class size at West Valley is 20 students, which is close to ideal. Finally, the cost per credit hour for both out-of-state and international students is $290.
Green River College
International students looking for cheap community colleges with dorms should consider Green River. Located in Auburn, Washington, more than 8,700 students from 60 countries attend the college, with most staying on campus. It is a school that takes pride in its internationalization which has been recognized with multiple awards.
The tuition cost for 12–18 credit hours for international students is $3,610, with additional fees of about $200. In addition, the price for student housing is $2,583 per quarter, and expenses like water, electricity, heat, internet, security, cleaning, and garbage services are included in this price.
Cheapest Community College for International Students
The number of international students in the USA has increased substantially in the last decade. In 2019–20, more than a million immigrant students enrolled in US universities and colleges, accounting for 4.6% of all the students in the country.
The education quality, unique curriculums, and multicultural environment only US colleges can provide are the key reasons for the global interest in studying in the country.
While considered an inexpensive investment by US standards, some community colleges are too pricey for students from developing countries. Here are some of the most affordable options they need to consider.
Luna Community College
Besides being one of the cheapest community colleges in the USA for international students, Luna also offers affordable online courses. Its out-of-state tuition cost for 12–18 credit hours is $1,404, well below the nation’s average. Additionally, the college has a very high acceptance rate.
There are over 35 programs that students at Luna can enroll in and get a certificate or an associate’s degree. The college provides education in STEM, business, humanities, allied health, nursing, and even several vocational studies.
Cloud County Community College
International students looking for the cheapest community college with affordable housing options should consider CCCC. The total cost for out-of-state students on its campuses ranges between $1,785 and $1,935 for a 15-credit-hour semester.
Only the Concordia campus provides housing, and students can choose between two pricing options, $3,720 and $3,000 per semester. Please note that both options include 17 meals per week, among other benefits.
In addition, the college offers 37 different degree and certificate programs and has an impressive 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Northeast Community College
With a yearly tuition fee of only $4,530, NECC is easily one of the cheapest community colleges for international students. However, that is not the only reason it earned a spot on our list; its affordable housing costs of between $4,680 and $6,400 for the whole year are a bargain and definitely worth considering.
In addition, the college provides over 130 programs in 16 different career fields. Therefore, there are plenty of options for getting a degree required to enter the workforce right after graduation or continuing education, depending on what the students prefer. However, it’s fair to mention that graduation rates from community colleges are relatively low, at 22%
Garden City Community College
In addition to having one of the cheapest community college out-of-state tuition costs, GCCC’s price for international students is also very reasonable. Including the additional fees, it stands at $155 per credit hour. Therefore, the typical 15 credit-hour semesters should cost about $2,325, or $4,650 for the whole year, much cheaper than the national average.
In addition to affordability, GCCC provides various technical and academic programs with 12 certification options. Its areas of study include business, technology, health, physical education, mathematics, and social science.
Western Iowa Tech Community College
While WITCC doesn’t have the cheapest community college tuition fee, it is still quite affordable. Its credit hour cost for out-of-state students is $169, and with the additional charges for international students, it goes up to $236. So for a typical 15-credit-hour semester, the price should be around $3,540.
WITCC offers six types of college degrees, including certificates and diplomas. There are more than 100 programs that students can enroll in from a wide variety of study fields. As a small institution, the college has a great 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Cheapest Online Community College
In 2019, about 7.4 million college students took at least one online course, and about 3.4 million studied exclusively online. These numbers reveal that distance learning was on the rise even before the COVID-19 restrictions.
Many students prefer studying from home because it allows them to create their own schedules and manage time on their own. However, some do it to save money on traveling and housing expenses. The following colleges provide affordable distance learning programs whose only attendance requirement is an internet connection.
Pitt Community College
Students looking for the cheapest community college with online courses should definitely check out Pitt. The college has one of the lowest tuition fees for in-state students at $76 per credit hour. Out-of-state students pay slightly pricier fees, at $268 per credit hour. In addition, the price for virtual students is the same as on-campus.
PCC offers about 50 online academic and transfer programs in various fields, including arts, science, business, construction, health, and public service. In addition, the college has large adult education and community service divisions.
Barton Community College
All virtual students at BCC pay $155 per credit hour, regardless of their state of residency. This is why Barton is considered the cheapest online community college per credit hour and the most affordable option for many students. In addition, it allows excellent flexibility because its classes are not scheduled, so students can access them anytime.
Students can enroll in more than 250 online courses and 30 fully online programs at this community college and earn a certificate or an associate’s degree after graduating. The available areas of study include English, math, biology, psychology, business, sociology, and political science.
Copiah Lincoln Community College
It may not be the cheapest, but CLCC is still among the most affordable community colleges with online courses in the USA. Its tuition fees per semester are fixed at $1,600 for local and $2,600 for out-of-state residents. For distance learning, students must pay an additional $40 per course.
CLCC offers 33 different, fully online programs, including secondary education and career-technical programs. Additionally, students can obtain associate’s degrees in arts, health, social science, business, and public safety.
Central Texas College
As it’s the case with most of the affordable community colleges in the US, CTC reserves the best tuition prices for local residents. However, out-of-state students get a reasonable offer for online classes at the college at $250 per credit hour.
Depending on their preference, students can choose between online programs leading to a degree or a certificate upon completion. CTC also provides distance education in multiple fields of study and frequently adds new courses. There are 34 online programs and over 50 certificate courses students can opt for.
Washtenaw Community College
Few cheap community colleges with online courses educate synchronously in virtual meetings. Most of them give students access to pre-recorded classes that allow them to learn at their own pace. While not as flexible, live online courses enable students to ask questions, open discussions, and many other advantages.
WCC’s tuition costs for out-of-state and international students are way below the online college average at $130 and $133 per credit hour, respectively.
Cheapest Community Colleges — The Bottom Line
Besides being the most coveted, US higher education institutions have some of the most expensive tuitions in the world. Thankfully, there are a few community colleges that provide international students with the American school system experience at a very affordable price.
The institutions listed in our article don’t sacrifice quality to accommodate lower-income students; they are smaller schools located in less populated areas with no extravagant equipment. However, they have dedicated faculty members and professors who can prepare their students for the next step in their education or career.