Campus is the new alternative to online community college that provides a 100% live and online Associate of Arts in Business Administration degree program. We’re on a mission to maximize access to a world-class education, starting with our career-focused business program that equips students from across the U.S. with a solid foundation in core business principles to set them up for success no matter what their next step is.
Community colleges are the education hubs of your local community. They offer many programs, including two-year degree programs and shorter certifications, and they make education more accessible for different types of learners, including recent high school graduates, working adults, or even those planning to transfer to a four-year university.
Best of all, they’re affordable–community college tuition can be one-third that of a public university and one-tenth that of a private university.
According to the NCES, on average, public community colleges charge $3,900 per academic year. In contrast, private for-profit two-year institutions charged $15,800 for the 2021–22 academic year, while the average annual tuition for private non-profit two-year colleges is a bit higher, at $18,000 per year.
While community colleges are already designed to be affordable, many also offer scholarships and financial aid programs that can make your education even more budget-friendly.
So, not only are you getting an affordable education, but there are often opportunities to make it even more accessible, such as a free community college.
Can You Get a Scholarship for Community College?
Community college scholarships are a type of financial assistance or opportunities available for community college students to help cover the costs of their education. They're intended for high school graduates, transfer students, low-income individuals, high-achieving students, specific fields or majors, and underrepresented groups.
Scholarships can come from various sources, including the college itself and government agencies or state programming. Whether you intend to go to a community college or a four-year school, there are plenty of scholarship opportunities out there that could help lower your financial burden for pursuing higher education. Let’s dive into the different types.
These scholarships are provided directly by individual community colleges and are specific to that school. They could be funded by the college itself, local organizations, or private donors invested in supporting students at that specific school.
So, these opportunities may come with specific eligibility criteria, such as GPA requirements or participation in certain activities or majors. You can likely learn more information about the scholarships on your school’s website.
Many states have scholarship programs available to eligible community college students regardless of the community college they attend within that state. These scholarships often have general eligibility criteria based on factors like residency, program of study, financial need, and academic achievement.
Community College Student Scholarships
Some scholarships are not tied to a specific community college but rather are available to a wider range of students across multiple community colleges. They may have broader eligibility criteria and often focus on specific courses or career paths.
Now, based on the criteria for awarding, scholarships for community college students can be categorized into need-based and merit-based. Let’s look at the differences between the two.
Need-based scholarships are awarded primarily to assist students who may struggle financially to cover their education costs.
The amount awarded through need-based scholarships can vary depending on the applicant's level of need and the available funds. A need-based scholarship may cover tuition, fees, books, and other educational expenses.
Often if a scholarship is need-based, submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a key part of checking your eligibility.
Merit-based scholarships recognize and reward students for their outstanding accomplishments.
Some of the most common achievements acknowledged in merit-based scholarships include earning exceptional grades or being talented in specific areas like the arts or sports.
Merit-based scholarships can vary widely in terms of award amount. Some may cover full tuition, while others provide a partial award. The amount often depends on the specific scholarship program.
What Community College Scholarships Are Out There?
Here is a list of a few examples of scholarships in the U.S. that can be applied for community college students:
- National Board Scholarship (American Association for Women in Community Colleges)
- Future of School Scholarship Program
- Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship (Phi Theta Kappa)
- The Nellie Martin Carman Scholarship (attend any college in Washington)
- The California Community Colleges Scholarship Endowment
- Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship Program
- Jeannette Rankin Foundation Scholar Grant
Many general scholarships, however, are available to a wide range of students and are not limited to community college students only. These scholarships are open to students at various educational levels, including high school seniors, undergraduates, and graduate students.
Universities, foundations, private organizations, and government agencies may offer them. Some general national scholarships out there are
- The Gates Scholarship
- Fulbright U.S. Student Program
- National Merit Scholarship
- The Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology
- Around the Corner from College Scholarship
Here are some state-specific scholarships and free community college initiatives in the US:
- California Promise Grant - California
- Michigan Reconnect - Michigan
- Arkansas Future Grant - Arkansas
- Nevada Promise Scholarship - Nevada
- The Pine Street State Pledge - Maine
Federal Aid and Community College
Whether through loans, grants, or work-study programs, federal financial aid opportunities can significantly reduce the out-of-pocket costs of attending a community college. These resources can go a long way in helping you cover expenses when you're gearing up for community college.
The Federal Pell Grant, for instance, does not have to be repaid. This grant is specifically designed to assist students with financial need.
You may also be eligible to receive federal student loans, which are subsidized and do not accrue interest while the student is in school. They even come with more flexible repayment plans than private loans.
Hence, they can help reduce the overall cost of borrowing. Plus, with the availability of work-study programs, you can earn money while attending college as well.
In order to check your eligibility for any of those programs, however, you must submit the FAFSA every academic year you plan to attend school. The FAFSA isn't just for traditional four-year universities; it's for community colleges, trade schools, and more and functions as your gateway to federal financial aid programs.
When you complete the FAFSA, you're essentially telling the government about your financial situation – things like your family's income, assets, and household size. This information determines your eligibility for the various types of financial aid.
Many states and colleges also use the FAFSA to award their own grants and scholarships. So, by completing this one form, you're not just accessing federal aid; you're opening the door to a world of potential scholarships and grants that can significantly reduce the cost of your education.
How to Apply for Federal Aid
Here's a guide on how to apply for federal aid using FAFSA:
- Create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID: Go to the Federal Student Aid website and create your account.
- Gather necessary documents: Some include social security numbers, W-2 forms, federal income tax returns, and bank statements. You'll also need parental financial information if you're a dependent student.
- Visit the FAFSA Website: Access the official FAFSA website and complete the form. Then, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) within a few days to a few weeks.
- Check for aid offers: Accept the aid you want from your accepted schools.
- Complete additional requirements: Some schools may require additional documents or forms to finalize your financial aid package.
Considering Community College?
Many scholarships for community college students are widely available and you can absolutely apply for them. These scholarships can come from various sources and can immensely reduce the cost of attending community college. To access them, you need to research opportunities, complete the FAFSA, and apply for scholarships that align with your qualifications and aspirations.
At Campus, we have an online associate degree in business program where tuition is below the maximum Federal Pell Grant award, so students who receive the full Pell would have no out-of-pocket tuition costs if they enroll.
Campus also provides a free laptop, WiFi access as needed, and free e-textbook and tutoring access to keep costs low. Request more info to learn more.