University education is out of reach for many Americans, especially those from low-income households. But thanks to community colleges, higher education is more accessible than ever. Compared with public four-year institutions, where tuition and fees cost almost three times as much on average, community colleges offer many savings for students.
Some states make community college even more accessible than usual. Multiple states and numerous cities across the U.S. have started “College Promise” programs that give residents free rides to community college. New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Tennessee are some of the states that have joined so far. Such initiatives are proving to be more critical than ever, with college tuition increases outpacing inflation and the need for post-secondary training in most jobs protected to grow through 2020.
Community colleges will be able to help meet that demand. But despite the fact that community colleges offer significant cost advantages, not every state offers schools of the same quality. Drawing on the findings of WalletHub of the best and worst individual community colleges in the U.S., we present a state-by-state ranking of community-college systems below. Read on for the results and a detailed description of our methodology.
Best Community College Systems
In order to determine the best and worst community-college systems in the U.S., we drew upon our analysis of 2019’s Best & Worst Community Colleges, which was conducted at the individual-school level across a sample of 710 institutions and 19 key metrics.
For our state-by-state analysis, we calculated a weighted average of the scores earned by the community colleges in each state and the number of students enrolled in each school. The state with the highest average corresponds with a rank of No. 1, or the best community-college system. We also took into account only the states that had at least two community colleges present in our sample of the Best & Worst Community Colleges in order to ensure comparability of results.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the National Center for Education Statistics, CNBC, U.S. Department of Education, Council for Community & Economic Research and College Measures.
Image: Tyler Olson / Shutterstock.com
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