A Comparison of College Affordability Indexes among City, Suburban, Town, and Rural Public Community Colleges
Academic Leadership - Online Journal,
Vol. 8 No. 2 (2007): Vol-8-Issue-2-February-2007
During the past 50 years, community colleges have increased in number and evolved to meet the
changing needs of an increasingly diverse student population. No other segment of postsecondary
education has been more responsive to the needs of its community (Kasper, 2002). Community
colleges grant associate’s degrees normally requiring 2 years of full-time study for completion.
Enrollment at public 4-year colleges and universities nearly doubled from 1965 to 1999, while
enrollments at public community colleges have increased approximately 5-fold (Kasper).
Although average community college tuition and fees have outstripped inflation, these tuition and fees
have increased at a slower pace than have tuition and fees at public 4-year colleges. Accordingly,
community colleges have emerged as an affordable alternative for students considering the pursuit of
postsecondary education and workforce training. Though tuition at public community colleges is
generally less than tuition at public 4-year colleges and universities, discrepancies appear to exist in
the cost of attending community colleges in urban areas, suburban areas, and rural areas. Differences
based on the degree of institutional urbanization appear to have an impact on the accessibility and
affordability of community colleges. While geographic location is expected to have an impact on
accessibility, geographic locations may also have an unexpected influence on community affordability.