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State College Can Save You Thousands

Here’s an easy pop quiz! Which is more expensive: A) a private college, or B) an in-state public college? We bet you already know that it’s much more affordable to go to an in-state school. Choosing to attend one of Florida’s institutions over a private school is going to net you a top-notch education while keeping tens of thousands of dollars in your pocket. BUT (consider this extra credit) did you know that there’s a way to shave costs even further?

The answer is to start your journey at a Florida state college (formerly known as community colleges). From there, you can get an associate’s degree after two years or a 4-year degree. You could also start at a state college for the first two years and then transfer to the four-year university of your choice for the final two. In Florida, where education leaders have worked hard to streamline the process for families, that route is often referred to as the “2+2” program.

And let’s be real: When it comes to your college diploma, what matters is the finish, no matter where you start!

The savings associated with the state college path can be gratifying. Let’s consider the example of students who earn their associate’s degree at Tallahassee Community College before going on to Florida State University. Classes cost $100.83 per credit hour at TCC, then jump to $215.55 per credit hour at FSU. That’s quite a savings over the first two years! Students save even more if they live at home for their time at a state college, saving thousands per year on room and board.

65 percent of the state’s high school graduates who are pursuing postsecondary education begin at a Florida college. — Division of Florida Colleges

Florida has worked hard to make such programs appealing and accessible. Take, for example, the FUSE program, launched in 2016. Under FUSE, A.A. graduates from seven state colleges are guaranteed admission into the University of South Florida, with a few reasonable caveats.

Florida’s Pathway to Success “Statewide Articulation Agreement” guarantees the transfer of 60 credits earned as part of the AA degree, although students are not guaranteed transfer into the college or university of their choice. A statewide course numbering system facilitates the transfer of credit. You can learn more about Florida’s 2+2 programs here.

Besides money, there can be other advantages to enrolling at a state college. Class sizes tend to be smaller, and instructors don’t have the pressure of research and publishing requirements – allowing them to focus on teaching. Students who aren’t settled on a major can explore their options in a less pressured, less expensive setting. And those whose high school GPAs are lagging can improve their chances of being admitted to the university of their choice with a robust performance at a state college.

The best course of action for a successful path through college is to meet early with an adviser at the higher education institution from which you’d like to graduate.


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