SOURCE: NextStudent

October 22, 2007 13:15 ET

For Students Looking to Cut College Costs, NextStudent Suggests Considering Community College for First Two Years of Study

PHOENIX, AZ--(Marketwire - October 22, 2007) - With the cost of college rising each year at nearly double the rate of inflation and students graduating with record levels of student loan debt, many students and their families are in search of ways to minimize their college costs without sacrificing a higher education. One increasingly used strategy for reducing college costs and the need for student loans is community college. By attending a community college for two years before transferring to a four-year college or university, students could earn their bachelor's degree at a fraction of the cost of attending a four-year school for all four years, says NextStudent, a leading Phoenix-based education funding company.

According to the College Board, in its 2006 "Trends in College Pricing" release, the average cost of college tuition and fees for 2006-07 was $5,836 for a four-year public institution ($12,796 once room and board costs are taken into account) and $22,218 for a four-year private institution ($30,367 with room and board). In contrast, the average tuition and fees at a two-year public college was just $2,272. And the College Board notes that the average full-time student enrolled at a two-year public program receives about $2,200 in grants and tax benefits, which would reduce the average price of $2,272 to a net price of under $100.

Undergraduates can take the core courses that will be applied toward their bachelor's degree at a community college, then transfer those credits to their four-year college of choice, where they complete the upper-level work required for their junior and senior years. When these students graduate, they'll receive a diploma from their four-year institution just like their four-year classmates, but at a cost typically far below what those classmates paid for all four years of instruction.

The federal grants and student loans many students use to help finance their college education can generally also be applied toward the costs at two-year community colleges, so students aren't giving up their federal financial aid options by eschewing a four-year institution for their first two years of study. Federal Pell Grants, Perkins Loans, Stafford Loans and PLUS Loans may all be used to help finance an education that starts at a two-year college and finishes up at a four-year institution.

Besides its full portfolio of federal student loans like Stafford loans and PLUS loans, NextStudent also features private student loans for those students who may have college costs still left to cover even after they've used all their federal financial aid options. And NextStudent encourages all returning and prospective college students, whether enrolled in a two-year or four-year college program, to make visiting its online Scholarship Search Engine a part of their financial aid research. The NextStudent Scholarship Search Engine is the largest database of its kind, listing more than 5.9 million individually awarded scholarships worth over $16 billion; it's available 24 hours a day and is completely free of charge.

About NextStudent

NextStudent, Federal Lender Code 834051, is dedicated to helping students and their families find affordable ways to pay for college. NextStudent offers one-on-one education finance counseling and has a portfolio of highly competitive education finance products and services, including a free online scholarship search engine, federally guaranteed parent and student loans, private student loans, both federal and private student loan consolidation programs, and college savings plans.

For more information about NextStudent and its student loan programs, please visit the company's website at www.NextStudent.com.

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