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States With Free Community College

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Though universities and state colleges tend to get the most acclaim, they’re quite expensive and many students seek more affordable alternatives. In fact, more than 10 million students were enrolled in community college in the 2020-2021 school year (about 6.2 million for credit and a bit more than 4.1 million not for credit), according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

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President Joe Biden made two years of free college tuition one of his top priorities from the start of his campaign. So far, that dream has not become a reality and cost remains one of the biggest barriers to higher education.

That’s true even for community college, despite the fact that two-year public schools cost an average of $3,400 per year for in-district students, according to EducationData.org, compared to $10,300 for four-year public colleges and $38,070 for private colleges and universities. The good news is, half the states in the country provide some form of free community college to qualifying student-residents — although it’s worth noting that many students won’t qualify.

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How 25 States Make Community College Free

Most states provide free community college tuition in one of two ways:

Some of the following offerings are available only to students pursuing certain types of certificates or degree programs. Many are need-based programs determined by household income. Others come with GPA requirements, age requirements or other stipulations. If your state is on this list, make sure you understand the rules that are specific to that program before you apply.

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States With Free Community College

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Jordan Rosenfeld contributed to the reporting for this article.