8 Free (or Cheap) Things Community Colleges Offer You Never Knew About
Going to community college is a surefire way to save money earning a degree.
How much money? Try $14,336, on average.
What’s more, after you complete your two-year degree at a community college, scores of four-year universities have scholarships specifically for transfer students that could save you thousands more.
So, we’re all clear on how community college can help you save on your education.
But wait, there’s more!
Community colleges are public institutions with an underlying mission of helping more people attain higher education and enter viable career fields, and improve the community overall. In other words, they exist to provide enrichment, learning and life tools for anyone who wants them.
Here are some resources you may not know are available at your local community college, at a lower cost than you might expect.
8 Resources You Can Get for Free (or Cheap) at a Community College
1. Community Events and Speakers
Moving to a new place is an expensive endeavor. Once you’ve paid all the bills associated with setting up a new home and gotten unpacked, exploring sounds fun — and expensive.
But there are free ways to immerse yourself in your new surroundings that don’t involve expensive bars and restaurants. Community colleges regularly host fun, interesting events, often at no charge. Think “community conversations” with interesting guest speakers, meet-ups organized around a book or game, and educational opportunities like stargazing in the school’s planetarium.
2. Lifelong Learning
Many community colleges (as well as four-year colleges and universities) offer reduced or free college tuition to senior citizens.
While some institutions only allow senior students to audit classes, many offer the chance to earn credits toward a degree at a reduced — or completely waived — tuition rate.
3. Free or Cheap Dental Care
Dental schools are filled with students who need practice. By having your dental work done at an educational institution, you can save hundreds on expensive procedures.
Many community colleges offer dental hygienist programs, meaning you can get your teeth cleaned by student hygienists for a fraction of the usual cost.
4. Resume-Writing Help
Looking for your first real job? If you’re not sure how to write a resume or what to put in a cover letter, there’s help. Community colleges frequently host resume writing workshops to help job seekers make the best possible impression.
5. Free and Cheap Exercise Classes
Goodbye, $80-a-month gym membership! Yoga, Zumba, weight-lifting, climbing walls, basketball courts, tennis courts, lap pools. These are all on the menu at community college campuses, often available for free or far cheaper than a retail gym charges.
6. Low-Cost Venue Rentals
Know what else community colleges have a lot of? Space. Consider campus facilities if you’re planning an event like a luncheon for your civic group, a holiday party or even a wedding. You’ll be surprised how much more affordable community college venues are than say, a local country club or restaurant banquet space.
7. Summer Camps for Kids
Every summer, kids celebrate the end of school while parents sweat covering child care and paying for expensive summer camps. Community colleges offer an array of lower-cost camps for all ages. Your youngsters could get immersed in theater arts or learn to code, while your graduating senior can take a college prep boot camp to help with the transition to college. Check out what your local community college offers in the summer.
8. Foreign Language and ESL Classes
Have you always wanted to be able to converse in German? Are you planning a trip to another country and want to get a taste of the language? There are plenty of apps out there, but community colleges offer in-person language courses for just these purposes. And for non-native English speakers, community colleges have an array of courses to help students and new residents improve their English skills.
Molly Moorhead is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder.