The following is a monthly column from Dr. Darrin Hartness that ran in the Lexington Dispatch and the Davie Enterprise for the month of October 2019.
It’s no secret, I get excited whenever anyone tells me they’re considering college as their next step. This choice is usually inspired by the hope and promise of a career path that leads to a more prosperous future. As children, we are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The truth is, our answer can change even well into adulthood. Whether a student is embarking upon their first career choice or returning to the classroom in pursuit of a different path, the decision to start college is a big step. Affording college and receiving the best value often tops the list of considerations students have to make before taking that step.
For anyone making a big financial decision, the first question is almost always cost. Continuing your education is no different, and affordability is a big consideration for prospective students. For those interested in reaching their bachelor’s degree, the numbers speak for themselves. At DCCC, the current cost of tuition and fees for two years totals $5,173. This amount of course does not include financial aid and scholarships that can bring that cost down, but I want to stick with the pure figure for now. Let’s look at that cost in comparison with our area’s four-year colleges and universities. For two years at UNC Greensboro, a student will pay $14,632 in tuition and fees, not including a meal plan or campus housing. With that in mind, if a student were to start their college journey at DCCC and then transfer to UNCG to pursue their bachelor’s degree, they will have saved $9,459. And that is just one example.
A student transferring to Appalachian State would save $10,247 in tuition and fees over the first two years. A student transferring to UNC Chapel Hill would save $12,787. Shifting to private universities, a student can save $55,867 if they invest in two years at DCCC and transfer to Catawba College, or $67,563 if they transfer to High Point University. The same quality instruction and preparedness for academic success is provided during those first two years at DCCC, at a better and more affordable rate. That’s savings that can go towards starting a family, buying a home, starting a business, or investing in the future.
North Carolina is one of the best states in the country when it comes to higher education. For some, going straight to a four-year university or college can be affordable, and obviously can have great value. Yet based on these numbers, the difference between combined student debt and potential earnings following graduation is exponentially widening for many in our community, region, state, and nation. On top of the issue of affordability and value, research indicates that community college students transferring to four-year schools perform just as well and often even better than their peers who entered a four-year college or university right out of high school.
Just in North Carolina, over half of bachelor’s degree recipients from public and private nonprofit colleges graduated in debt, with federal student loans averaging $26,526.
DCCC takes those savings and value even further. Our programs are specifically engineered to provide students the skills needed to succeed in their career fields. These programs lasting two years, or even less, provide students the ability to gain employment with competitive skills and a sustainable income. Our instructors are experts in their fields. Taking the cost of attending DCCC over two years as an initial investment, our graduates can feel financially empowered with their credentials, without carrying the baggage of long-term student loan payments. Many of our students earn certifications, diplomas and degrees that lead to jobs in skilled trades, healthcare, and other fields where beginning salaries exceed what a student entering the workforce with a four-year bachelor’s degree might earn.
I understand that $5,173 for two years at DCCC can be a significant amount of money that could instead be used for living, everyday expenses, and supporting a family. The potential to grow that initial investment into better opportunities and sustainable finances, however, exists right here on our campuses. That’s why we at DCCC proudly say “The Future Is Here.”
More important than projected salaries and the costs of college are the people behind them. The parent supporting their family. The newly engaged couple wanting to become homeowners. The next entrepreneur seeking to start their own business. The freshly graduated high school student ready to enter the workforce or hoping to save on the way to earning their bachelor’s degree.
Furthering your education to attain an exciting career is not a snap decision. My decision that eventually led to me to earn a doctorate degree in education was not an easy one. I’ve found the most impactful and life-changing decisions rarely are easy. So, this is my question for you: what do you want your next step in life to be? DCCC can help you reach that goal. If finances for college are a concern, our team will help you navigate the financial aid and scholarships that are available to ensure you can make college a reality. We know this is an investment, but know that you are in good hands. You have the entire faculty and staff of DCCC ready to support you and guide you on a path to a better future for you and your family. While this choice is ultimately yours to make, I’m certain you will find a bright future here at DCCC. One that is not only affordable, but provides exceptional value in your journey to personal success.