27 Community College Statistics to Know Before Enrolling

Community college statistics show that thousands of community colleges in the US have played an important role in getting many young people ready for entry-level positions in numerous industries. To this day, community colleges have remained an essential part of the US education system.

If you’re looking to enroll in one, your first step is to get informed about the relevant details. This data could help you, even if you’re already enrolled in a community college program wishing to transfer to a university.

Key Community College Stats (Editor’s Choice)

  • Rural community colleges have the highest college expenditures by urbanicity ($16,000). 
  • The national average acceptance rate for community colleges in 2021 is 79%.
  • Nearly half the community colleges have intercollegiate sports programs.
  • The average age of a community college student is 28.
  • Universities have student groups of 300–400 students.
  • Transfer rates from community colleges to four-year colleges fell by 1.3%, while reverse transfers fell by 16.2%.
  • Community colleges have lost 13.2% of students between 18 and 24.
  • Almost 100,000 international students study at community colleges in the US.

The latest Community College Statistics

Community colleges have a reputation of low-budget, even low-quality education institutions. While that may be true, there’s much more about community colleges that people haven’t heard of.

The following data reveals uncommon information about this group of colleges.

1. As of January 2021, there have been 936 public community colleges in the US.

(Statista)

Simultaneously, 73 community colleges are registered as independent. There are also 35 tribal community colleges.

2. Rural community colleges have the highest college expenditures by urbanicity ($16,000).

(ACCT)

Community college trends show that rural community colleges on average receive funding similar to their urban and suburban peers. However, the costs of providing services at a rural community college are much higher.

The burden of overall costs at suburban community colleges is $15,000, and $14,500 at city colleges.

3. 59% of community college faculties in California are white.

(EdSource)

California has 115 community colleges. Out of that number, nearly two-thirds identify themselves as white. Community college statistics also show that 17% of the community college faculty members are Latino.

Moreover, there are 9.9% of Asian faculty members at California’s community colleges, while only 6.2% of the members are black.

4. Only 13% of community college students graduate in two years.

(Community College Review)

Statistics tell us that a relatively small number of students graduate from community colleges on time. Around 22% of students graduate within three years, while 28% graduate within four years.

5. The national average community college acceptance rate in 2021 is 79%.

(Community College Review)

The newest research shows that the average acceptance rate at public community colleges is approximately 85%. For private community colleges, it’s around 75%. Furthermore, the states with the highest average acceptance rate at community colleges are Colorado and Louisiana (87%).

In comparison, Oklahoma has the lowest average acceptance rate at community colleges in 2021 — 54%.

6. On average, 37% of first-time, full-time students complete a community college nationwide.

(Community College Review)

Studies say that the national community college completion rates at community colleges aren’t that high. What’s more, the average completion rate for the same student category at public community colleges is 28%.

The situation is different at private community colleges, though. Approximately 58% of full-time, first-time students complete them.

7. Nearly half the community colleges have intercollegiate sports programs.

(Community College Review)

According to college student statistics, community colleges enroll around 12 million people per year. Out of those, over 50,000 community college students participate in intercollegiate sports programs. Moreover, community colleges tend to involve more students in athletics by starting new programs or expanding the existing ones.

8. The average age of community college students is 28.

(Community College Review)

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) confirms this number. However, unlike the general assumptions, only 16% of community college students are over 40. Many people think that community colleges are for non-traditional students, meaning older students.

Recent research shows that there are middle school and high school students taking classes at community colleges. So, community colleges are a viable option for working adults and younger students.

9. 121 community colleges gained permission to grant community college baccalaureate (CCB) degrees in 2019.

(Washington)

Community college statistics claim that 23 states authorize community colleges to give baccalaureate degrees. These 121 degree-granting institutions represent nearly 13% of the reported 941 public two-year community colleges in the US.

In 2018, there was a spike in state adoption of CCB policies in four states (Idaho, Missouri, Ohio, and South Carolina). Two more states followed in 2019 (Wyoming and Oregon).

10. 56% of all community colleges nationwide were Native American in fall 2019.

(AACC)

Community college students’ demographics reveal that Native Americans comprised the majority of community college students in fall 2019. Hispanic are next with 53%, while Black students represented 43% of community college students nationwide. On the other hand, only 38% of students were Asian Pacific.

11. In the 2018–19 school year, community colleges awarded 878,900 associate degrees.

(AACC)

These findings come from a study of 145 public and 46 independent colleges. Apart from thousands of associate degrees, these institutions issued 619,711 certificates as well. On the other hand, only 20,700 baccalaureate degrees were given that year.

Community College vs. 4-year University Statistics

To be fair, many students know right from the start they cannot afford top-quality education because it is expensive. Thus, they choose to enroll in their local colleges. As a result, they don’t have to battle the anxiety brought by the ever-growing student loans.

Nevertheless, both of these higher education options have plenty of benefits, especially for community college students.

12. The tuition price at public universities is around $8,000, while the average tuition at community colleges is half that of public universities.

(Education Corner)

Community college vs. university statistics emphasize how affordable community colleges are. In fact, the tuition is much lower because community colleges typically don’t have big campus infrastructure or extracurricular programs. Conversely, the tuition plus other living expenses at public and private universities can be even higher than $20,000.

13. Universities have class sizes of 300–400 students.

(TSC)

Universities have larger classes due to the number of students attending the school. As a result, there’s not much one-on-one communication with professors. On the other hand, community college facts tell us that around 25–35 students attend classes at community colleges.

Small classes enable community college students to ask questions and develop relationships with their classmates.

14. There is 4.8% enrollment growth for legal professions at two-year colleges and psychology at four-year universities in 2021.

(NSC Research Center)

Student academic interests in legal professions and psychology have grown over the years. Moreover, the number of students interested in Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services increased by 3.0%.

15. Community college transfer rates to four-year colleges fell by 1.3%, while reverse transfers fell by 16.2%.

(NSC Research Center)

In the 2020–21 academic year, there were approximately 2.1 million transfer students. However, the latest research shows that transfer enrollment fell by 191,500 students or 8.4%. In fact, all transfers were affected but in different ways.

For example, lateral transfers between two-year colleges fell by 83,600 students or 15.2%. Moreover, upward transfers in the fall semester fell by 15,500 students or 2.3%. On the other hand, the transfer rate increased by 0.9% in the spring semester (+2,400 students).

16. Community college vs. 4-year university statistics say that liberal arts is the most common undergraduate major for two-year college students (1,439,320). At the same time, it’s Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support for 1,491,999 four-year college students.

(NSC Research Center)

Business, healthcare, and liberal arts remain the most common undergraduate majors for both two-year and four-year college students. Nevertheless, fewer students chose them in spring 2021 compared to spring 2020.

In spring 2021, 13.8% fewer two-year college students wanted to study liberal arts and related sciences. In addition, around 2.3% fewer students chose Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support at four-year universities.

17. Community college enrollment trends show that, in 2019–20, 11,246,500 students enrolled in four-year public institutions. In the same school year, 7,700,167 students entered two-year public colleges.

(NCES)

The findings are based on the data from 5,908 institutions. In the 2019–20 school year, 26,092,999 students entered post-secondary institutions in the US. Essentially, more students went to four-year universities than community colleges. For example, 4,985,164 students were in private, not-for-profit universities, while only 66,612 students enrolled in the same category of two-year colleges.

Community College Students Statistics

The community college student body is pretty diverse. These people are of various backgrounds, ages, and ethnic origins. The last couple of years have been hard for all of them, despite the differences.

If you’re a future college student, these stats can help you grasp what being a community college student means.

18. Over 65% of the total undergraduate enrollment losses occurred in the community college sector, according to community college facts and statistics.

(NSC Research Center)

Overall, higher education spring enrollment decreased to 16.9 million from 17.5 million in 2021. The decline translates to 603,000 students, which is seven times worse than the previous year.

Moreover, more than two-thirds of the total enrollment decline happened in community colleges across the US. There were -9.5% or 476,000 fewer enrolled students in these institutions.

19. Community colleges have lost 13.2% of students aged 18–24.

(NSC Research Center)

The number of traditional college-age students has declined by 5% as of spring 2021. Moreover, community college enrollment trends for 2021 show that community colleges have experienced the steepest enrollment decline for this age group.

20. Over 400,000 community college students receive more than $800 million per year in private grants to help them pay for their education.

(Help To Study)

Studies show that community college students get a fifth of all college scholarships. Moreover, students whose families’ overall income is lower than average have higher chances of getting a scholarship or eligibility for free studying at a community college, as reported by Sofi.

21. 23% of California community college students are white.

(EdSource)

Based on community college diversity statistics, the share of white students has dropped from 41% over the last 20 years. This is one of the findings of a recent survey involving 1.2 million full-time students.

Moreover, the number of Latino community college students varies by district. Overall, it ranges from 18.6% to 90.6%. Unfortunately, black students make up a minority at California community colleges with 1.1% to 18.7% enrollment.

22. Almost 100,000 international students study at community colleges in the US.

(Dream Studies Abroad)

According to community college stats, a fifth of all international students in the US are at community colleges. Additionally, half of them are in colleges across California, Texas, Florida, the State of Washington, and the State of New York.

23. One-fourth of all college students who begin at a community college transfer to a four-year institution.

(Community College Review)

Reports showing high dropout rates for community college students might be inaccurate. The reason for this is the number of students who transfer from community colleges to four-year universities.

Community college students statistics also show that 60% of such students graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

24. Public two-year colleges in New England charged the highest average tuition and fee amount in 2020–21 ($5,780).

(Statista)

In the 2020–21 school year, the average college tuition and fees varied greatly across regions in the US. Unlike New England, the West region had the lowest two-year public college fees ($2,460).

The Southwest area is next with $3,080. In the South, students at two-year public colleges had to pay $3,930. Community college facts and statistics show that such institutions in the Midwest and the Middle States charged $4,610 and $5,510, respectively.

25. In fall 2019, 5,455,976 students attended postsecondary colleges.

(NCES)

A survey from 2019 tells us that community colleges were quite popular among students. The survey collected information from 938 institutions. However, the same study from the previous year showed that 5,613,833 students enrolled in community colleges in 2018.

In fact, enrollment at community colleges has been decreasing ever since 2009. At that time, 7,160,790 students went to postsecondary schools.

26. Community college data shows that 1,901,244 students attended community college full time in 2019.

(NCES)

The same research from the previous stat points out that many students go to college part-time for various reasons. However, this research doesn’t state why 3,554,732 community college students attend classes part time.

However, the number is significantly higher than that of students able to be fully dedicated to school.

27. The community college sector experienced the steepest decline in retention of 51.6%.

(NSC Research Center)

According to the report, beginning part-time students have been affected the most. Community college retention rates for them fell four percent in 2020. Moreover, persistence rates fell 5% for the same group of community college students.

Conclusion

Any opportunity to get higher education these days can be a gold mine for the future. No matter if you choose a community college or a university, make sure to go for what you love doing. Community colleges often get a bad rap as less difficult, low-rent versions of universities.

However, they come with many conveniences, give you top-quality education, and propel your career with great job opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)