Survey: Community College Students Using More Grants, Loans To Pay For Education

Quick Takeaways:

  • Survey results show a 15 percent increase, over the last decade, in community college students who reported using grants and scholarships to pay their tuition
  • Percentage of community college students who reported using loans to pay their tuition went from 22 percent to 34 percent, an increase of 12 percent, between 2004 and 2014

By Brittany Hackett, Communications Staff 

The percentage of community college students who used grants and loans to pay for their education increased during the recent economic recession, as did the emphasis schools place on providing students financial support, according to a recent survey of community college engagement.

The survey was conducted by the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) from 2004 to 2014 and included participation from 853 public, two-year colleges across the U.S. representing 85 percent – or nearly 6.4 million – of the country’s community college students. The survey provides a snapshot of student engagement at community colleges, including who is attending community college and how the economy impacts them.

According to the survey, 62 percent of students enrolled in 2013 were part-time students, compared with 61 percent in 2004, while 38 percent of students were full-time in 2013, down slightly from 39 percent in 2004. Students ages 18 to 24, or “traditional” students, comprised about 58 percent of the students surveyed in 2013, compared with 55 percent in 2004. Non-traditional students, or those age  25 and up, comprised 42 percent of students in 2013 and 44 percent in 2004.

CCSSE also looked at how the economic recession and subsequent recovery impacted community college students, finding a 15 percent rise in students of all enrollment statuses citing grants and scholarships as sources for paying for college between 2004 (43 percent) and 2014 (58 percent). In addition, a growing percentage of students cited loans as a source of payment, up 12 percentage points from 2004 – 22 percent – to 2014 – 34 percent.

Student employment also changed during the recession, with a 15 percent drop in the percentage of part-time students who reported working more than 30 hours per week, from 54 percent in 2004 to 39 percent in 2014. At the same time, there was a 13 percent increase in students saying they more frequently took classes during the day, up to 77 percent in 2014 from 64 percent in 2004. Overall, there was a 9 percent increase in the number of full-time students with the goal of obtaining or updating job-related skills, 75 percent in 2014 compared with 66 percent in 2004.

The survey also showed an increase in the emphasis colleges placed on providing financial support to students, with 59 percent of full-time students and 50 percent of part-time students in 2014 reporting “quite a bit” or “very much” when asked how much their college emphasizes the issue. In 2004, the numbers  were lower for both groups of students at 50 percent for full-time students and 38 percent for part-time students.


Publication Date: 3/10/2015

Joe P | 3/11/2015 6:27:48 PM

I think the most interesting part of the survey is about part-time student employment. A 15% drop in students working at least 30 hours a week. Until there are further Direct Loan reforms, making it more desirable to borrower, I think students need to understand that working 30+ hours is ok. And, taking a little more time to complete a degree is worth graduating with less debt.

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