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PCC allows students to get education for less

28 July 2011

As costs continue to rise and the economy continues to decline, many people have to find ways to save money. One way many students and parents are finding to save money in college, is by enrolling their students in a community college first.

"When I started looking for colleges, I only looked at community colleges," said Katie Acosta, who will be a freshman in the fall at Pratt Community College and is from Council Grove. "I knew I would get just as good of an education and be in a smaller atmosphere while saving money."

Acosta said she has totaled up what it will cost her to go to school at PCC and knows that she won't have take out any student loans with the scholarships and grants that she is receiving. According to the American Association of Community College's 2010-2011 Fast Faces, the average annual tuition and fees were $2,713 at a community college and $7,605 at a four-year college. On average a student who attends PCC will save more than $5,000 over the course of a year.

"Coming to PCC first was the right choice," said 2011 PCC graduate, Brian Rios of Pratt. "I was able to get all my prerequisites out of the way for less money. If I would have started at a larger school I would have been paying more and never would have got the scholarships that I did at PCC."

Rios said by starting out at PCC, he was able to get through his first two years of school debt free. Earlier this month, the Kansas Board of Regents established the tuition and fees rates for the six state universities for the upcoming 2011-2012 academic year. The newly established rates range from a 3.6 percent increase (an increase of $70.05 per semester) at Fort Hays State University to a 6.8 percent increase (an increase of $158.00 per semester) at Emporia State University.

PCC also increased tuition and fees from $79 to $85 a credit hour, while students who attend a four-year college pay an average of $136 a credit hour.

Some people worry about attending a community college because of how hours will transfer or that they won't get as good of an education but people who have started at a community college say that shouldn't be a fear.

"Going to a community college first is a great stepping stone from high school to college," said Elly (Blasi) Sneath, 2004 PCC graduate. "You are on a first name basis with all of your professors and you can branch out more than you could at a bigger school."

Blasi, who transferred to Kansas State University, said she had no issues with her courses transferring and that she was glad she took the classes in a smaller atmosphere so that she could get more one-on-one attention from the instructors when it was needed.

"It was easier for me to learn in the smaller classes," she said. "The instructors were always there to help in and out of the classroom. They not only taught me what I needed to know in class but also taught me how to manage my time between studies, fun and work."

Sneath is currently working at the Kansas State Research and Extension Office in Meade County as an Ag and Natural Resource Agent. PCC offers many different technical training programs as well as general education courses. While getting an education students can take place in numerous clubs and organizations, compete in athletics and learn leadership skills.