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.
Fewer 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 fewer than a third 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
Show published costs
Total published tuition, fees, books, and supplies can be a misleading representation of cost
2019 College Scorecard
Don’t believe published tuition costs
Published costs reflect the costs of the students who pay full tuition, but
at many private institutions very few students actually pay full price. A
high number of private colleges and universities practice the offering
of scholarships to defray tuition costs as a method
of tuition discounting. Do not be misled
by published tuition costs, especially in the age of COVID when those prices may be
even more off the mark than ever.
Take a moment and check the box above the strip chart at the top of the page to
use the published tuition, fees, books, and supplies as a measure of cost. You’ll
see that the costs grow even though they no longer include living expenses, and
there’s a widened gap between public and not-for-profit institutions that does
not reflect reality.
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
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 seven-year federal loan repayment rate, an
eight-year graduation rate, and their net price.
Our alumni outcomes rating was based on the eight-year graduation
rate and the seven-year federal loan repayment 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 eight-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 four-year graduation rates.
The federal loan repayment 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
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 -- this is still
Fair: Top 50% in both measures. Note that this guarantees only a 57% graduation
rate and a 74% repayment rate, meaning that for the schools near this boundary
almost half of their students fail to graduate and a quarter have made no
progress in repaying their debt after 7 years. This is not a tough standard!
Worrisome: In the lower half of performance for at least one standard.
Poor: In the lowest 10% of performance for both standards.