Community college as a financial strategy?

A parent asked a lot of questions surrounding the concept of attending community college.:

-Pros/Cons of attending community college or a smaller, local university for first two years of studies with goal of obtaining Bachelor’s from a larger University.

-Is the savings and small step into college life beneficial?

-Is it harder to get accepted to a 4-year college with a two year transfer plan?

-Does the student apply for their dream college now and let admissions know they plan on the first two years elsewhere or does student apply after first two years are underway?

-Is this generally frowned upon or welcomed by admissions?


As you can see there are a lot of very good questions here. Here's my take on it.

Community college is a good idea to gain credits WHILE still a high school student as dual enrollment. But that's a topic for another day.
Is it also a good idea as the first 2 years after high school IF AND ONLY IF the student does not have the stats (GPA/test scores) to land a decent entering freshmen scholarship at their 4-year college.
Here’s why...
The largest merit scholarships are for entering freshmen. Period. There are/could be transfer student scholarships to the 4-year school but they are significantly lower! (Think 90% less.)
Colleges are filling seats. For freshmen year they have all the seats open to fill. In those first two years there will be some students that drop out or transfer out. Those empty seats are the ones they fill with transfer students.
If you stay within a state system of schools (Community college then to a 4-year college), they know the education from the community college. Also some systems have a chart showing which courses will transfer into the states 4-year colleges. Transferring is a risk for 2 reasons. (1) Less money. (2) Risk of transferred courses not being applied to the degree program.
So for some students community or junior college can be a great first step, especially if the state colleges have an agreement that guarantees enrollment and transfer of credits, and if community college is free in your state. But it's not the perfect plan for everyone.

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