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Best community college in every state

Angela Underwood, Elizabeth Jackson on

Published in Slideshow World

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Best community college in every state

Long gone are the days when education levels weren't inherently tied to income levels. Twenty-first-century teens as young as high school freshmen consider what colleges are available to them sooner rather than later to make a decent living in the long run.

Be it grades or money, many young adults choose the more convenient option of community college to begin their undergraduate education: 41% of all undergrads are in a two-year school, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. When it comes down to education and numbers, a community college's annual tuition and fees are significantly less than four-year schools no matter which way the data is sliced.

 Stacker looked at 2020 data from Niche to find out the top community colleges in every state across the country. These community colleges offer a great reason to consider a two-year education before moving on to a four-year school. If considering a continued education, these community colleges are a perfect place to start.

Read on to find out the best community colleges in every state.

Visit thestacker.com for similar lists and stories.

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Alabama: Marion Military Institute

- Location: Marion, AL - Students: 391 (student to faculty ratio: 14:1) - Acceptance rate: 56% - Tuition: $9,418 (in-state); $15,418 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 78%; six-year median earnings: $42,700

Founded in 1842 and listed on the Alabama National Register of Historic Places, Marion Military Institute is the nation's oldest military junior college. The school, which has a National Junior College Athletic Association certification, mandates fitness programs as a part of the student curriculum to instill regimen and rigor. MMI's Service Academy Program is the only one in the country that offers availability to all five U.S. service academies, including West Point. The institute offers $2 million in scholarships annually.

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Alaska: AVTEC - Alaska's Institute of Technology

- Location: Seward, AK - Students: 135 (student to faculty ratio: 15:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $9,795 (in-state); $9,795 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 82%; six-year median earnings: $35,300

Operated by the state of Alaska under the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Alaska Vocational Technical Center exists to equip students with the key employability and technical skills they need to start a new career in less than a year. Instead of earning a diploma via credit hours, students work their way toward a certificate through clock hours, with the ability to earn up to eight a day. This arrangement allows many students to complete their programs in 90 to 180 days, and 88% of them go on to land full-time employment in their chosen field.

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Arizona: Eastern Arizona College

- Location: Thatcher, AZ - Students: 1,983 (student to faculty ratio: 17:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $2,700 (in-state); $11,400 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 45%; six-year median earnings: $29,200

The oldest community college in Arizona, Eastern Arizona College was established by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1888. Its main campus, in Thatcher, is 160 miles from Phoenix and 120 from Tucson and educates only a few thousand students. With 30 degree programs on offer, from administration of justice to welding, students are primed to transfer to a four-year program within the state if they choose.

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Arkansas: Southern Arkansas University Tech

- Location: Camden, AR - Students: 404 (student to faculty ratio: 13:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,977 (in-state); $6,417 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 86%; six-year median earnings: $26,700

Southern Arkansas University Tech held its first classes in 1968 and has maintained an average enrollment of 1,800 students a year ever since. Scholars have their choice of 16 different fields of study and are guaranteed to be able to transfer into 10 four-year universities within the area. Additionally, athletes have the opportunity to play on NJCAA-sanctioned basketball and softball teams or root from the sidelines on the Rocket cheer squad.

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California: Santa Barbara City College

- Location: Santa Barbara, CA - Students: 6,354 (student to faculty ratio: 27:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $1,374 (in-state); $8,326 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 44%; six-year median earnings: $36,800

Committed to diversity and equity, Santa Barbara City College has won numerous awards for its program, including the California Community College’s Board of Governors Dr. John W. Rice Diversity and Equity Award. In 2019, the two-year school had 11,487 students enrolled, 39.1% of whom were Latinx. With a plethora of degree and certificate options, almost half of the student body takes classes online or on the weekend, making the school a great option for those looking to further their education while still working, parenting, etc.

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Colorado: Pickens Technical College

- Location: Aurora, CO - Students: 1,157 (student to faculty ratio: 22:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,510 (in-state); $7,990 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 81%; six-year median earnings: $33,100

Pickens Technical College offers 50 certificate programs in eight different areas including Arts Media and Communication, Engineering and Technology, Health, and Human Services. In October 2018, it was one of 30 Colorado colleges to offer free application, dismissing fees up to $100 to encourage further education. The school also received attention in 2018 when it won the national Weld it Forward competition for building student Noah Williams a wheelchair ramp for his home. “By winning, it was good to feel like I gave something back to the people who helped me out,” William said to CBS.

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Connecticut: Asnuntuck Community College

- Location: Enfield, CT - Students: 621 (student to faculty ratio: 15:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,556 (in-state); $13,508 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 47%; six-year median earnings: $36,300

Located half-way between Springfield, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, Asnuntuck Community College offers in-state tuition ($166/credit) to residents of Connecticut. The affordable college graduated its first class in 1974 and has awarded more than 8,000 degrees and certificates in the time since. Students at the school have an abundance of fields of study to choose from, but the programs that utilize the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, which has trained over 9,000 students to date, remain the most popular.

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Delaware: Delaware Technical Community College - Stanton-Wilmington

- Location: Wilmington, DE - Students: 2,188 (student to faculty ratio: 13:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $3,530 (in-state); $8,282 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 13%; six-year median earnings: $35,000

The Wilmington branch of the Delaware Technical Community College was first opened in 1974 with the goal of offering associate, degree, and certificate programs to the state’s northern community. Today’s students can study in a variety of fields, from Business, Education, Health & Science, Information Technologies, and Public Services for $152.50 a credit for in-state students. One of the campus’ many draws is the Dental Health Center, which gives dental hygiene students a clinical setting to practice their skills on real-life patients.

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Florida: Charlotte Technical Center - Adult Education

- Location: Port Charlotte, FL - Students: 272 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $2,909 (in-state); $11,365 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 79%; six-year median earnings: $30,800

A full services technical college in the heart of Charlotte County, Charlotte Technical Center provides adult learners with the skills they need to begin a career in a variety of fields, from cosmetology to technology support services and automotive services. While the vocational school includes high schoolers as a part of its student body, the adult education classes, whether day or night, are always run separately. The school also goes to great lengths to connect its students with job opportunities once they’ve successfully completed their programs.

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Georgia: South Georgia Technical College

- Location: Americus, GA - Students: 1,008 (student to faculty ratio: 17:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $2,136 (in-state); $4,934 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 60%; six-year median earnings: $23,400

South Georgia Technical College was an Air Force base earlier in the century and has an outsized role in aviation history. The famous aviator Charles Lindbergh purchased his first plane from what they then called “Souther Field.” Many students still study aviation at the school, along with other technical professions like automotive and aviation. Students today give the school high marks for its considerably-involved professors, who help students with everything from practical and academic concepts to job placement.

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Hawaii: Kapi'olani Community College

- Location: Honolulu, HI - Students: 2,492 (student to faculty ratio: 17:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $3,144 (in-state); $8,280 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 29%; six-year median earnings: $37,200

As a branch of the state university system, the Honolulu two-year school promotes a Student Success Pathway based on six principles: connect, prepare, engage, learn, achieve, and thrive. The school has begun hosting transfer days with the state university system to encourage community college students to further their education. Through an auto-admission process, Kapi'olani Community College students can directly transfer to the University of Hawaii Manoa, Hilo, and West O'ahu. From the two-year school, students can also move into the Culinary Institute of the Pacific, which offers associate degrees and certificates in baking, and culinary and pastry arts.

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Idaho: College of Eastern Idaho

- Location: Idaho Falls, ID - Students: 479 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,126 (in-state); $5,222 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 60%; six-year median earnings: $26,200

The College of Eastern Idaho has a strong focus of cybersecurity: Some students call it “the best cybersecurity program west of the Mississippi.” Students also give high marks to the administrators, who they say truly want to help students excel, and the school has a student-teacher ratio that's less than half of the state average (31-to-1) in community colleges.

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Illinois: Harper College

- Location: Palatine, IL - Students: 4,606 (student to faculty ratio: 19:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $9,852 (in-state); $11,664 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 44%; six-year median earnings: $37,300

The University Center at Harper College has made it possible for students to earn a full four-year degree from the universities of DePaul, Northern Illinois, or Roosevelt on the two-year school campus in Chicago's northwest suburb. Named after the first president of the University of Chicago Dr. William Rainey Harper, the school's most popular majors include Liberal Arts and Humanities, Nursing Assistant, and Business, according to Niche, which rates the school as “an above-average public college.” 

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Indiana: Ivy Tech Community College - Downtown Indianapolis

- Location: Indianapolis, IN - Students: 20,678 (student to faculty ratio: 16:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,368 (in-state); $8,402 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 26%; six-year median earnings: $30,100

Founded in 1963 as a single vocational school, Ivy Tech Community College has grown enormously over the intervening years, now offering programs in seven different schools at 40 locations. The largest singly accredited community college system in the country, Ivy Tech has managed to maintain its small class sizes while growing its flexible learning options, including 1,000 different online classes. Applying to the school is free, and 43% of students receive some sort of financial aid, making the school an affordable option for those looking to pursue higher education.

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Iowa: Western Iowa Tech Community College

- Location: Sioux City, IA - Students: 1,746 (student to faculty ratio: 16:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,272 (in-state); $4,296 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 41%; six-year median earnings: $31,500

Western Iowa Tech Community College focuses on a comprehensive student experience that extends beyond academics and job placement, which is not always a given for a community college. A student life and wellness center cost $5.5 million to construct, and features a full-size basketball court, volleyball court, three-lane jogging track, and a gym with cardio equipment, and Pilates and self-defense classes. None of this detracts from academics, which have a whopping 90% success rate of placing graduates in jobs.

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Kansas: Cloud County Community College

- Location: Concordia, KS - Students: 789 (student to faculty ratio: 11:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $3,300 (in-state); $3,480 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 89%; six-year median earnings: $30,700

Cloud County Community College estimates that students can save an average of $10,000 by completing their first two years at this school rather than a four-year college or university. About 72% of attendees choose this transfer route, benefiting from small class sizes and flexible schedules. On average, these transfer students go on to earn a very respectable 2.86 GPA during their first semester at university.

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Kentucky: Hopkinsville Community College

- Location: Hopkinsville, KY - Students: 999 (student to faculty ratio: 20:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,248 (in-state); $14,400 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 42%; six-year median earnings: $27,000

One of 16 two-year colleges in the state of Kentucky, Hopkinsville Community College offers its students 20 areas of study, including nursing, criminal justice, and business administration. An already-affordable option, the school is also part of the Work Ready Kentucky program, which provides free education (up to 60 credit hours) for students in certain fields with high demand.

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Louisiana: Sowela Technical Community College

- Location: Lake Charles, LA - Students: 1,796 (student to faculty ratio: 20:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,185 (in-state); $8,522 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 48%; six-year median earnings: $34,200

Given a reasonable rate of return by WalletHub, Sowela Technical Community College campus, located on a former Air Force base, received the Commission on Occupational Education certification in 1971 and was accredited with technical community college status in 2003. However, Hurricane Rita destroyed some of the Lake Charles campuses in 2005, causing millions in damage. But like their “Flying Tigers” mascot, Sowela students remain resilient and continue to win national competitions including the 2019 SkillsUSA. Students took home gold and silver medals in commercial baking, crime scene investigation, and television/video production.

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Maine: Northern Maine Community College

- Location: Presque Isle, ME - Students: 404 (student to faculty ratio: 12:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $3,741 (in-state); $6,561 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 50%; six-year median earnings: $30,300

Northern Maine Community College is an exceptionally small community college, with only a few hundred students. The school is known for the high caliber of its instructors, with students citing the fact that many instructors have doctorate degrees, and might as well be teaching at four-year institutions.

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Maryland: Howard Community College

- Location: Columbia, MD - Students: 3,271 (student to faculty ratio: 14:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $6,048 (in-state); $7,248 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 29%; six-year median earnings: $38,600

When it comes to higher education, Howard Community College is an extremely smart investment: On average, students who attend are able to completely pay back any outstanding balance in just 12.2 years, earning $1.90 for every $1 they originally spent. Additionally, 43.6% of students receive some type of financial aid. HCC scholars are able to pursue work in a variety of fields after earning a degree in areas like Computer Systems, Health Sciences, Teacher Education, and STEM.

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Massachusetts: Greenfield Community College

- Location: Greenfield, MA - Students: 573 (student to faculty ratio: 12:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $5,570 (in-state); $8,303 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 86%; six-year median earnings: $32,300

In Pioneer Valley near the Berkshire Mountains foothills, Greenfield Community College works closely with the University of Massachusetts for students who wish to transfer to a four-year school. In 2018, 290 certificates and awards were handed off to 267 graduates. The school's STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program is part of a $20 million unique project awarded to the state's 15 two-year colleges.  

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Michigan: Washtenaw Community College

- Location: Ann Arbor, MI - Students: 12,045 (student to faculty ratio: 18:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,104 (in-state); $5,520 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 23%; six-year median earnings: $29,200

“One of the nation’s premier community colleges,” Washtenaw Community College offers eight areas of study. Of the school’s 137 specific programs, 30 can be completed virtually, including accounting, supply chain management, and technical communication. For those who prefer to learn by stepping out into the world, the school also offers a variety of study abroad programs, including trips to the U.K., Spain, and Peru.

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Minnesota: Ridgewater College

- Location: Willmar, MN - Students: 1,839 (student to faculty ratio: 19:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $5,765 (in-state); $5,765 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 55%; six-year median earnings: $33,300

Ridgewater College distinguishes itself in its preparation for the fields students will enter after graduating. The very high employment rate of 93% two years after graduation matches what students have to say about the quality of education, with students stating that their professors teach material that reflects the real-world on-the-job experiences they will have to an unusual degree.

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Mississippi: Holmes Community College

- Location: Goodman, MS - Students: 3,527 (student to faculty ratio: 18:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $3,110 (in-state); $5,690 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 44%; six-year median earnings: $28,300

Holmes Community College began as Holmes Agricultural High School in 1911, before adding its first junior college courses in 1922. Today, the school spans three campuses and two centers, all of which offer seven associates degree pathways and three technical pathways. Additionally, the entirety of every program can be completed online (since 1999!), which gives students even more flexibility when it comes to jump-starting their future.

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Missouri: State Technical College of Missouri

- Location: Linn, MO - Students: 1,213 (student to faculty ratio: 12:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $6,120 (in-state); $11,160 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 74%; six-year median earnings: $39,900

Forbes listed the State Technical College of Missouri as one of the top 25 two-year trade schools in 2018 based on several factors, including post-graduate success, affordability, student experience, completion success. The 360-acre Linn campus, which has student housing, also offers lifetime career services for alumni. “Since 1995, 97% of State Tech graduates find gainful employment or continue their education within six months of graduation,” according to the school website, adding 98% of students are Missourians.

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Montana: Flathead Valley Community College

- Location: Kalispell, MT - Students: 848 (student to faculty ratio: 12:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $6,180 (in-state); $11,948 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 40%; six-year median earnings: $28,200

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, just 30 miles from Glacier National Park, Flathead Valley Community College is led by staff and faculty members who are at the top of their respective fields. The college’s location isn’t the only thing that makes it perfect for students who love the outdoors—its degree and certificate programs, which include offerings like agriculture, forestry, wildlife biology, and parks, tourism & recreation management, are also major draws for people who want to step out from behind the desk. In addition, the school offers small class sizes and an abundance of financial aid to prospective students.

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Nebraska: Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture

- Location: Curtis, NE - Students: 275 (student to faculty ratio: 15:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $5,228 (in-state); $5,228 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 60%; six-year median earnings: $46,400

Forbes Business Magazine ranked Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture as one of the top 30 trade schools in the nation, thanks to its small class sizes, affordability, and high academic quality. The school also ranks highly in the nation for highest average salaries among all two-year graduates according to Zippia. NCTA offers many pathways, including agriculture and veterinary technology.

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Nevada: Truckee Meadows Community College

- Location: Reno, NV - Students: 2,816 (student to faculty ratio: 19:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition:: $3,075 (in-state); $9,853 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 83%; six year median earnings: $33,900

Up to 50 fields of study, 160 degrees and certificates, and a respected university-transfer program at Truckee Meadows make it popular among students who want to further their education. In 2015, the school made it possible to attain either a Bachelor of Applied Science in either Emergency Management and Homeland Security or Logistical Operations Management on the Reno campus. The college, established in 1971, has four core themes including student success, academic excellence, access to lifelong learning, and stewardship of resources.

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New Hampshire: White Mountains Community College

- Location: Berlin, NH - Students: 253 (student to faculty ratio: 7:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $7,970 (in-state); $16,770 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 60%; six-year median earnings: $35,100

White Mountains Community College aims to prepare “qualified high school graduates as skilled workers to meet the needs of the state.” After submitting their free application, students can choose from 42 different programs, including nursing, informational technology, welding, and culinary arts. As a college that truly works with its students, 81% of these applicants receive financial aid, and around 71% return to complete their program after their first semester.

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New Jersey: Raritan Valley Community College

- Location: Branchburg, NJ - Students: 3,089 (student to faculty ratio: 19:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,852 (in-state); $6,052 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 33%; six-year median earnings: $37,700

Since establishment under green and gold colors in 1969 and commencing 75 graduates the following year, Raritan Valley Community College touts being Jersey's top two-year school. Significant additions to the campus since have been the Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Paul Robeson Institute for Ethics, Leadership, and Social Justice. In 2017, the Branchburg campus added a new Workforce Training Center. Niche student reviews report Raritan Valley Community College as “a great choice for anyone looking to further their education,” and “a wonderful choice to begin their education.”

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New Mexico: New Mexico Military Institute

- Location: Roswell, NM - Students: 412 (student to faculty ratio: 16:1) - Acceptance rate: 37% - Tuition: $4,530 (in-state); $14,534 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 68%; six-year median earnings: $39,700

Unlike most two-year schools, New Mexico Military Institute, which enrolls junior level and high school cadets, is governed by the state and governor. Founded in 1891 and nicknamed “The West Point of the West,” the school is made up of neo-Gothic style buildings and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Under the motto, “Duty, Honor, Achievement,” is a long list of alumni, including actor Owen Wilson, founder of the famous hotel chain Conrad Hilton, and former NFL quarterback Roger Staubach, who graduated from the military institute.

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New York: CUNY Stella & Charles Guttman Community College

- Location: New York, NY - Students: 848 (student to faculty ratio: 15:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $5,194 (in-state); $8,074 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 52%; six-year median earnings: not available

CUNY Stella & Charles Guttman Community College is located in the heart of New York City, right in Manhattan, and students say their experiences at the college exceed even high expectations heading in. One perk students love? The unlimited Metro card the school provides to help them take advantage of everything the city has to offer.

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North Carolina: Stanly Community College

- Location: Albemarle, NC - Students: 761 (student to faculty ratio: 13:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $2,673 (in-state); $8,817 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 48%; six-year median earnings: $28,200

For the last 40 years, Stanly Community College has been offering diploma, certificate, and associate's degree programs to North Carolina residents. These curriculum and continuing education students can choose from 27 programs of study, including Albemarle highlights like Cosmetology, Criminal Justice Technology, and Computer Engineering Technology. 82.3% of Stanly students achieve educational success, earning a “C” or higher grade, in their course of study.

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North Dakota: North Dakota State College of Science

- Location: Wahpeton, ND - Students: 1,589 (student to faculty ratio: 13:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $5,132 (in-state); $12,402 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 49%; six-year median earnings: $43,400

As part of the North Dakota University System, the Wahpeton and Fargo campuses offers more than 80 academic subjects. The school reports providing more than $17.5 million in financial aid to 94% of students, and 46.4% of full-time students reside on the campus in Wahpeton. The school, with over 30 clubs and organizations, has four athletic divisions including men and women's basketball, women's volleyball, men's football, and women's basketball.

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Ohio: Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute

- Location: Wooster, OH - Students: 611 (student to faculty ratio: 15:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $7,707 (in-state); $26,811 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 49%; six-year median earnings: $46,100

Representing one of Ohio State University's six campuses, Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) offers rolling admissions for students interested in gaining an associate's degree within OSU's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. The school is the largest of its kind in the United States.

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Oklahoma: Indian Capital Technology Center - Muskogee

- Location: Muskogee, OK - Students: 319 (student to faculty ratio: 18:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,027 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 98%; six-year median earnings: $24,700

Indian Capital Technology Center aims to produce productive members of society by training its students in 15 fast-growing fields, including auto collision repair technology, precision machining, and health. The community college has also been approved to participate in the Veterans Administration Educational Benefits program, which helps servicemen pay for higher education and technical training.

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Oregon: Linn-Benton Community College

- Location: Albany, OR - Students: 2,571 (student to faculty ratio: 18:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,922 (in-state); $10,991 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 20%; six-year median earnings: $32,300

One of the largest community colleges in Oregon, Linn-Benton Community College serves over 18,000 students across all six of its campuses. The main campus, located in Albany, offers seven meta majors, but its biggest draw is the number of clubs, co-curricular activities, and sports it offers—nearly as many as a standard four-year university. In 2019, the school awarded 729 degrees and certificates, saw 55% of its students return for a second year, and saw 13% of its scholars transfer to a four-year university.

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Pennsylvania: Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

- Location: Lancaster, PA - Students: 1,220 (student to faculty ratio: 16:1) - Acceptance rate: 77% - Tuition: $8,000 (in-state); $8,000 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 67%; six-year median earnings: $45,600

Since being founded more than a century ago in 1905, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology offers up to 21 programs to approximately 1,200 students under the “Prepare for Work. Prepare for Life.” motto. “Approximately 40% of students pay no tuition and receive room and board without cost,” according to the college website. Five residence halls on the 32.5-acre campus near downtown Lancaster enable students to live on site. However, the school only permits students who have lived in Pennsylvania for more than a year to attend the two-year school.

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Rhode Island: Community College of Rhode Island

- Location: Warwick, RI - Students: 5,756 (student to faculty ratio: 18:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,564 (in-state); $12,156 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 22%; six-year median earnings: $30,500

As the largest two-year school in New England, the Community College of Rhode Island has four campuses, including Warwick. Newport, Providence, and Lincoln are the other locations students where have been studying since the college's humble beginnings in 1964 with 325 students.  

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South Carolina: University of South Carolina - Lancaster

- Location: Lancaster, SC - Students: 700 (student to faculty ratio: 14:1) - Acceptance rate: 67% - Tuition: $7,558 (in-state); $18,238 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 39%; six-year median earnings: $44,900

Established in 1959, the University of South Carolina at Lancaster is the oldest of the school’s four regional campuses. It is also consistently ranked one of the top community colleges in the state thanks to its 70.2% success rate (students who either graduate or transfer to a four-year university). But transferring isn’t the only option for students looking to continue their education: Thanks to a long partnership with USC Palmetto College, scholars are able to complete 20 bachelor’s degrees and five associate degrees at the smaller campus.

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South Dakota: Lake Area Technical College

- Location: Watertown, SD - Students: 1,566 (student to faculty ratio: 17:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $5,332 (in-state); $5,332 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 75%; six-year median earnings: $36,900

In 2020, Lake Area Technical College won a national award for excellence and equity in its STEM program, particularly in its Welding Technology pathway. The STEM program isn’t the only exceptional aspect of the school either—the class of 2019 saw a job placement rate of 99%. In fact, over the college’s 55-year history 20,000 students have graduated from its various programs, and 83% of them choose to remain in South Dakota.

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Tennessee: Tennessee Technology Center at Newbern

- Location: Newbern, TN - Students: 259 (student to faculty ratio: 17:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $15,816 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 80%; six-year median earnings: $27,200

Tennessee Technology Center certainly puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to making higher education available to more Tennesseans—through the TN-Reconnect program, the school provides free tuition for any resident 24 years or older. 82% of theTCAT student body reaches graduation, many of them within a single year, and 88% are able to find employment in their field of study. An incredibly low-cost option, even for out-of-state students, the average TCAT graduate walks away with no debt.

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Texas: San Jacinto College

- Location: Pasadena, TX - Students: 7,348 (student to faculty ratio: 20:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $2,628 (in-state); $4,188 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 37%; six-year median earnings: $37,700

San Jacinto College is regularly ranked as one of the top-10 community colleges in the country. The award is focused on schools that help low-income and minority students advance their educations and careers, and San Jacinto is noted for its ability to do so. The award also recognized the college for its advising program, which they determined made a critical difference in helping many students graduate.

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Utah: Mountainland Technical College

- Location: Lehi, UT - Students: 329 (student to faculty ratio: 14:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $2.10 per enrolled tuition hour - Outcomes: graduation rate: 82%; six-year median earnings: not available

Mountainland Technical College participates in the Learn and Work in Utah program, which provides completely free education to qualified students in certain programs like automotive manufacturing, automotive technology, commercial truck driving, emergency medical technician, and nursing assistant. The college’s participation in the program allows many low-income and adult learners to embark on a path of education that is certain to change their lives. Ambitious high school students can also get a leg up via the college, as MTECH offers free tuition for any student that is simultaneously enrolled in an accredited high school.

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Vermont: Community College of Vermont

- Location: Montpelier, VT - Students: 768 (student to faculty ratio: 13:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $7,120 (in-state); $6,624 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 30%; six-year median earnings: $28,800

The Montpelier location's three most popular majors are liberal arts and humanities, business, and medical assistant. The school has a low graduation rate of 30% for attending students. Niche also reports the Community College of Vermont alumni average a starting salary of $24,200.

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Virginia: Piedmont Virginia Community College

- Location: Charlottesville, VA - Students: 1,112 (student to faculty ratio: 18:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,790 (in-state); $10,718 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 41%; six-year median earnings: $31,100

Piedmont Virginia Community College, one of 23 in the Old Dominion State, offers a plethora of programs including one-year certificates, associate degrees, continuing education, and workforce training. Since 1972, approximately 213,000 students have been educated at the two-year school, according to the college website, which notes that every year more than 500 students transfer to a four-year school, with 2,400 moving on to the University of Virginia.

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Washington: Pierce College at Puyallup

- Location: Lakewood, WA - Students: 1,737 (student to faculty ratio: 13:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $3,952 (in-state); $4,380 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 63%; six-year median earnings: $36,500

On several occasions, Pierce College has been recognized as Washington state’s most successful community college, one of the best community colleges for veterans, and one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation. Most of these accolades are due to the work of the Pierce College Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that works with the community to provide the resources students need to succeed. These needs can be as small as money for a textbook or as large as rent, daycare, or life-saving medical treatment.

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West Virginia: Pierpont Community & Technical College

- Location: Fairmont, WV - Students: 1,022 (student to faculty ratio: 15:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,938 (in-state); $11,704 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 30%; six-year median earnings: not available

Students study a wide range of topics at Pierpont Community & Technical College, giving it a diverse feel that many community colleges more narrowly focused on specific interests do not. The top four concentrations include Business, Criminal Justice, Food Management, and Early Childhood. A technical center provides students with skills specifically focused on moving West Virginia’s economy into the future.

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Wisconsin: Fox Valley Technical College

- Location: Appleton, WI - Students: 2,157 (student to faculty ratio: 11:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $4,565 (in-state); $6,578 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 58%; six-year median earnings: $36,100

Fox Valley Technical College serves almost 50,000 people yearly, “more than any other technical college in Wisconsin,” according to the school website, noting that three public referendums in 1968, 1998, and 2012 were held for the school to grow. The school has over 240 associate degree and technical diploma programs and 16 apprenticeships available for study. The school reports that 94% of alumni secure employment within the first six months of graduation.

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Wyoming: Central Wyoming College

- Location: Riverton, WY - Students: 622 (student to faculty ratio: 16:1) - Acceptance rate: 100% - Tuition: $3,120 (in-state); $7,632 (out-of-state) - Outcomes: graduation rate: 51%; six-year median earnings: $28,400

Beyond its small size and small student-to-faculty ratio, Central Wyoming College is also known as a creative hub in the region. A visual and performing arts center on campus draws people from all over the region to a diverse lineup of events and performances, and the college is the broadcast home of PBS in the state.


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