Voices and Viewpoints

National Ranking of Community College Highlights Variability in Costs and Outcomes Among Community Colleges

by Heather L. Fox / Aug 26, 2016

Community Colleges are often highlighted as an affordable postsecondary option and a key access point for low-income and non-traditional students. However, there is a lot of variety in the tuition and fee costs, graduation rates, loan default rates, and overall return on educational investment.  This variety is the focus of WalletHub’s recent analysis of 821 community colleges in the U.S., where they ranks the highest and lowest colleges in each of the aforementioned areas.

Several Illinois community colleges were highlighted in this ranking.  Two Illinois colleges were among the top 25 colleges ranked on cost and financing, educational outcomes, and career outcomes, including Rend Lake who ranked 7th, and Trinity College of Nursing and Health Sciences that ranked 24th. Trinity College of Nursing and Health Sciences was ranked among the highest costs of in-state tuition and fees, however, it had the lowest student-loan default rate and had the third highest graduation rate.

In conjunction with this analysis, WalletHub interviewed a panel of experts to share their perspectives on improving the U.S. community-college system. These experts provided insight into the movement for tuition free community college, the role of policymakers in improving community colleges, pathways through community colleges and transfer, and indicators of the best and worst community colleges. Among the esteemed panel of experts was Dr. Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher, OCCRL’s director and a professor of higher education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. See WalletHub’s summary of the study and panel of expert’s responses to learn more.

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