The College Search

Should I start at a community college and then transfer?

Question: Would it be a smart idea to go to a community college for two years to save money and then transfer to a state college? The distance is my problem because the community college is a 44 minute bus ride from my home while the state college is a 17 minute bus ride from my home.

Many students do choose to transfer from a two-year college to a four-year college in order to save money. But if the trip to the CC from your home seems impractical, don't rule out heading directly to a four-year school. Also, why not consider a school where you can live on campus? Although it can be money-saving to live at home, you may miss out on some of the best aspects of college life if you are commuting.


If you are a good student--or even a pretty good one--you may qualify for scholarships at both public and private colleges. In fact, sometimes the more expensive private colleges can end up being "cheaper" than the state schools because these college have more money to give away. Also, regardless of your academic talent, if your household income is low, you may also qualify for "need-based" aid that can help you cover not only tuition costs but also room, board, and some other college expenses.

If you haven't done so already, I suggest that you have some fun with the College Board "Matchmaker" at http://collegesearch.collegeboard.com/search/adv_typeofschool.jsp

As you complete the questionnaire, select all your preferences (size, location, major, etc.) Under the "Financial Aid" heading, don't limit yourself to a school with any particular price tag ... at least not the first time you tackle the questionnaire. You may find that this questionnaire will direct you to colleges that you haven't previously considered---and which might turn out to be affordable--- even if they're not commuting distance from home.

Happy hunting!