Community colleges in the United States - Statistics & Facts

A community college is an educational institution that provides tertiary education and continuing education supplemental to traditional four-year universities and colleges. In the United States, community colleges are primarily two-year public institutions of higher education. Many community colleges also offer remedial education, General Educational Development tests, high school degrees, technical degrees and certificates, and a limited number of four-year degrees. As of 2016, there were 982 public community colleges in the United States.


Community college can be a more affordable and less time-consuming way for students to earn a degree. In 2014 about 7.2 million students were enrolled in public 2-year postsecondary institutions across the U.S. In 2015, the most popular field of study was liberal arts and sciences. About 367,626 associate degrees awarded at community colleges were in this field of study, and it made up one third of all attained degrees.

Community colleges received attention in 2015 after President Barack Obama proposed to make community college tuition free to many residents of the US. For many individuals, community colleges offer the only opportunity for a college education. Tuition rates of public community colleges are significantly lower than for-profit colleges. In 2014, at private for-profit 2-year institutions, tuition costs totaled 14,193 U.S. dollars on average, while in public 2-year institution the tuition costs were estimated to be 2,882 U.S. dollars on average.

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Community colleges and other 2-year institutions in U.S. higher education - Important statistics

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