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Ididio Explores
Find the best certificate or associate's degree in your community
Education can create a path to a lucrative future, and Ididio will help you avoid the potholes created by certificate and associate’s schools that are failing their students.

We’re here to help you find schools that offer results

It’s a great choice to use education to get ahead. As we detail in our story A little training can lead to a job with great pay!, there are some career training programs that offer phenomenal results.

But what about those of us who need to study near home? Here are some stats:

  • Half of certificate and associate’s schools cost more than $12,000 a year after all grants have been applied.
  • More than half of the schools see over 13% of their past students defaulting on their federal student loans with three years, and rewer than half of the students who attend are able to reduce their federal loan debt by even $1 seven years after attending.
  • Half of these schools award degrees to at most about a fourth of all of those who enroll.

Our goal is to help you find schools have better outcomes for their students, and that charge a price you can afford. We’re going to help you find the best local school to help you get ahead.

You can find good quality for low costs

We rated each certificate or associate’s-granting school based on how their past students fared relative to all schools in this group. In the graphic below, we show the average annual costs, including living expenses, for all students for each of the alumni outcomes ratings categories. (Public colleges costs reflect in-state attendees only.) At most levels of alumni outcomes, there are low-cost options and high-cost options, which gives us hope that you can find an affordable school that offers good quality. There is one exception: the best alumni outcomes were at schools requiring a greater up-front investment.

In the following graphic, each school is a represented with a dot, and sized by the number of undergraduates attending with color representing institutional control:

  • Public control: these colleges offer bargains within their own state, as shown by their placement on the left-hand side of the graphic, but the out-of-state cost is likely to be significantly higher.
  • Private not-for-profit control: these institutions are funded primarily by endowment donations and growth, as well as by tuition. It may surprise you to see that a private college or university can be as affordable as your public options.
  • Private for-profit control: these institutions operate with profit as their goal and are funded almost entirely by tuition revenue. For bachelor’s-seeking students the for-profit schools often offer poor outcomes, but for career-focused degrees we often see good student results offered by for-profit institutions.

Costs by alumni performance and institutional control
$0$20K$40K$60KAverage annual costsPoorWorrisomeFairGoodBest
Public in-state
2019 Accreditation
2018 IPEDS
2019 College Scorecard

Use the filters and table below to discover the colleges and universities that balance student costs with the best alumni outcomes for certificate and associate’s-offering schools. As you consider the results in this table, pay special attention to the accreditation status. If you are hoping to eventually transfer to a 4-year program, it is in your best interest to stick to the blue seal corresponding to institutions who are in good standing with regional accreditors. Credits earned at other institutions may be more difficult to transfer.

Explore school selectivity and alumni outcomes
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Certificate and associate’s schools by cost and alumni outcomes
Select a row to see Ididio’s school page!

Net price
Bottom 10%
Bottom 25%
Middle 50%
Top 25%
Top 10%
Accreditation Status
Net price
Average total annual costs
Four-year completion rate
Look for high grad rates
3-year loan default rate
Look for low repayment failures
Number of undergrads
2019 Accreditation
2018 IPEDS
2019 College Scorecard

In addition to this summary table, Ididio’s school explorer provides you with many ways to discover potential colleges and career schools. While each school’s costs and alumni successes are really important, to find your best fit you need data about the programs offered, classroom environment, and student body composition. We hope you will use all of our information to find the best home for your future success.

We only show schools that offer primarily certificate and associate’s degrees at the undergraduate level and that report a three-year federal loan default rate, a four-year graduation rate, and their net price.
Our alumni outcomes rating was based on the four-year graduation rate and the three-year federal loan default rate. If you experiment with differing measures of quality using our school explorer you will find similar results. It turns out that loan default and repayment rates correlate very closely with earnings data for all alumni -- not just those who needed federal student aid. However, it takes many years to accumulate reliable earnings data, while loan repayment and default rates can be measured more quickly.
The four-year graduation rate is taken from the outcomes data reported in the 2018 IPEDS data, and applies to all students seeking an undergraduate degree. Although standings could change for individual schools, the overall trend we see here is preserved if we only consider first-time full-time freshmen and/or six- or eight-year graduation rates.
The federal loan default rate is from College Scorecard. This and the three-year default rate are available in our school explorer. The three-year rate is more sensitive to recent changes in quality and would result in a similar analysis.
For each of the two outcomes measures above, we labeled each school as performing in the top 10%, top 50% (excluding the top 10%), lower 50%, or lower 10%. Our alumni outcomes ratings were defined as
Best: Top 10% in both measures
Good: Top 50% in both measures, and top 10% in one measure -- these schools are still outperforming most competitors!
Fair: Top 50% in both measures. The fair designation guarantees only a 28% graduation rate and a 13% loan default rate, meaning that for the schools near this boundary more than two-thirds fail to graduate and over 10% have already completely given up on repaying their federal loans. Requiring at least these results is a low bar.
Worrisome: In the lower half of performance for at least one standard.
Poor: In the lowest 10% of performance for both standards.
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