Dear Estelle. Our dream for our children has been to send them to a four-year college in Colorado. We’ve saved money every year and they’ve had jobs so they too could contribute to their college educations. Since the 2008-09 economic downturn, our financials have plummeted and we find that even a four year college in Colorado might not be affordable. This distresses us because we don’t want our children to graduate with enormous loans. Your thoughts?
CWR, Parent, Highlands Ranch
College financing has become a critical issue for many parents after the economic downturn several years ago. Many families lost their jobs, along with their college and retirement savings. This situation has been exacerbated by major tuition increases by many colleges, sometimes as much as 15-20 % in the past 5-10 years.
Fortunately, we now have an affordable alternative here and in other states
which makes a four-year college degree possible for all students at a significantly lower cost.
Last year 38% of high school graduates entering college began at two-year institutions. A significant number transferred to four year colleges and obtained their baccalaureate degrees. Becoming a transfer student presents opportunities and challenges and it’s important for a prospective student to be aware of these when beginning this journey.
Best of all, it will be more affordable than attending any of Colorado’s 4-year institutions all 4 years. In Denver, Red Rocks Community College has developed transfer agreements with CU, CSU and the Colorado School of Mines. If a student graduates from high school and receives a two-year degree, they are considered freshman in terms of financial aid and scholarships. They will be recognized as juniors after their transcripts are reevaluated. CSU transfers require a minimum 2.5 GPA, School of Mines, 2.75.
Each school provides many services for transfer students including academic and financial aid advising, mentors, honor societies, and flexible living in upperclass dorms and off campus housing.
Before a student considers these innovative partnerships they should visit the four year school they want to transfer into and attend a college transfer fair which are held annually at the community colleges.
Many 18 year olds are reluctant to attend the 2-year option believing the community colleges will not provide them with the same type of campus life as a 4 year school. In recent years, however, many of the community colleges have introduced athletics, student government and numerous clubs and campus activities.
The best part is the cost! This approach could save families a significant amount of money.