Community colleges offer students vast possibilities--and some of the best ones might be right in your own backyard

These are 2021’s best community colleges

Community colleges offer students vast possibilities--and some of the best ones might be right in your own backyard

There’s a lot to be said for community colleges. Yes, they offer financial savings, but the benefits go well beyond the bank.

But before we discuss what community colleges offer students, mentioning the cost remains a must. According to WalletHub, during the 2020-2021 academic year, tuition and fees for full-time, in-state public community college enrollment were around $3,770 per year. Four-year tuition at a public four-year school averaged $10,560 per year, and at a four-year private school averaged $37,650 per year.

Community colleges offer students myriad other benefits. Students who change majors or are undecided in their first years of higher education can explore their interests at a more affordable tuition rate and with flexible schedules that are often easier for those with personal or professional obligations.

Students can establish personal connections with and usually have more access to faculty–connections that extend well beyond a semester and that could help students grow professionally in their local area.

What’s more, community colleges are hotbeds of innovation. New concepts, programs, and initiatives are often launched in a smaller arena before they’re scaled up at larger institutions.

So, where are the best community colleges? Check out WalletHub’s latest detailed ranking, with the top 10 listed here:

1. State Technical College of Missouri (MO)
2. College of San Mateo (CA)
3. Saddleback College (CA)
4. Butte College (CA)
5. Santa Fe Community College (NM)
6. Arkansas State University-Mountain Home (AR)
7. Kauai Community College (HI)
8. Ohlone College (CA)
9. Northwest Iowa Community College (IA)
10. Los Angeles Pierce College (CA)

States with the best community college systems include:
1. Hawaii
2. Wyoming
3. Washington
4. Maryland
5. New Mexico
6. Connecticut
7. North Dakota
8. California
9. South Dakota
10. New York

WalletHub also asked a panel of experts about where community colleges are headed and how to best support them. Questions include (click here for all questions and experts):

1. Do you think that making community college tuition-free will increase enrollment and graduation rates?
2. What can policymakers do to improve the quality of education and training at community colleges and the career prospects of graduates?
3. Should community colleges focus more on preparing graduates for the workforce through career and technical education or on preparing graduates to move to a four-year college?

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Laura Ascione