community college statistics
By Elma Mrkonjić | January 16, 2021 | 0 Comments

25 Conscientious Community College Statistics To Know

If you’re not sure whether to enroll in a four-year university or a community college, you should look at these community college statistics. 

Many people underestimate community colleges, but the reality is that there are more advantages than you might think. More than a thousand institutions across the US are well-known destinations for young people willing to learn. 

Let’s delve into the statistics, ongoing trends, and facts about community colleges. You’ll find some interesting stats that may help you make an important life decision. 

Top Community College Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • A community college student’s average age is 28.
  • Around 28% of US community colleges provide on-campus housing, but only 1% of students live on campus. 
  • 31% of community college students transfer to a four-year institution. 
  • In 2018, 8.2 million students were enrolled in community colleges. 
  • The number of community colleges in the US is 1,050.
  • 81% of community college students aspire to transfer to a four-year university.
  • The average community college cost is around $4,808 a year
  • 71% of community college students apply for some student aid.
  • 12% of students at community colleges have some disability.
  • At 87%, Indiana and Louisiana have the highest community college acceptance rate in the US. 

General Community College Statistics and Rates

community college statistics 1

A community college is a two-year government-supported educational institution where students obtain an associate degree. After graduating from community college, students can enroll in a four-year university to pursue further education. 

If you’re looking to enroll in community college, being well-informed is your first step. The following statistics will help you in understanding this topic more. 

1. Less than 30% of community college students graduate in four years.

(Community College Review)

Community college graduation rates show that only about 13% of community college students manage to graduate from their respective institutions in two years. 

However, the graduation rate increases to 22% for a period of three years, while 28% of community college students graduate in four years. Further statistics indicate that only about 60% of college students graduate from four-year institutions within six years. 

2. There are 1,050 community colleges in the US. 


According to community colleges by state stats, there are 1,050 community colleges in the United States. Of these, 941 are public, 35 are tribal, and 73 are independent community colleges. 

3. 31% of community college students transfer to a four-year institution. 

(Inside Higher Ed)

Even though 80% of students starting community college say that they want to receive a bachelor’s degree, fewer than a third transfer to a four-year university within six years, according to community college transfer rates. 

What’s more, only one in six college students manages to obtain a four-year degree during that time. The majority of students (75%) are interested in transferring to public institutions, while only 6% transfer to for-profit institutions. 

4. The college dropout rates are highest at community colleges. 

(The Washington Post)  

According to a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, David Kirp, the community college dropout rate is very high. 

As stated in his book “The College Dropout Scandal,” fewer than 40% of community college students graduate or transfer to a different institution within six years. Even more shocking is the fact that public universities have a 50% dropout rate. 

5. A community college student’s average age is 28.

(U.S. News)

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, the average age of community college students is 28. Around two-thirds of students from community college attend college part-time, while most students work. 

6. Approximately 55% of dependent students with a family income lower than $30,000 enroll in a community college.


According to statistics, 44% of Hispanic students enrolled in community colleges in 2017, compared to 31% of White students and 35% of Black students. In general, 34% of undergraduates were enrolled in a community college that year. 

7. California is the state with the highest community college success rates. 

(Campus Explorer)

The East San Gabriel Valley ROP has an incredible 93.4% graduation rate. This program offers a unique method of earning a degree and allows both adults and high school students to attend classes. 

The Occupation Program is designed to provide students with practical and theoretical knowledge, exposing them to the real world. Therefore, high graduation rates come as no surprise. According to other community college graduation rates by state, community colleges in Illinois, Montana, North Carolina, and Utah also have high graduation rates. 

8. More than two-thirds of incoming community college students need to take remedial classes. 

(Read Speaker)

Around 70% of students entering community college need to take remedial classes. Those classes are mainly basic courses in math or writing. 

The remedial courses are designed to help students achieve expected results in core academic skills. They can be mandatory for some students before they start taking regular lessons. 

9. Community college completion rates grew in 27 states. 

(Community College Daily)

Twenty-seven states’ community colleges had at least a 1% increase in graduation rates, while 22 states saw a similar increase for four-year universities. 

In 2013, the six-year graduation rate of students entering two-year colleges increased to 40.8%. Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Tennessee are the states that saw the greatest increase in community college completion rates.

Community College Enrollment Statistics

community college statistics 2

Community college enrolment has increased nearly four times in the past two decades. It’s estimated that the number of students aged 17 and under enrolled in community college classes has increased from 163,000 to around 750,000. 

10. Enrollment in community colleges dropped by 10.1% for part-time students in 2019.  

(Community College Daily)

Part-time student enrollment decreased by 10.1% at two-year colleges, while full-time enrollment dropped by 8.2%. The total decrease was 7.9% for Black students and 7.6% for White students. There was a 13.7% decrease in the enrolment of international students. 

11. In the 2018-19 academic year, 8.2 million students were enrolled in public two-year colleges. 


Based on community college trends, enrollment has been the highest in the last decade. In 2018, 5.6 million students were enrolled in community colleges. Of that number, 2 million were full-time students, and the rest were part-time students. 

There was a 1.4% drop in enrollment the following year. In fall 2019, 5.4 million students were enrolled in two-year public colleges. 

12. 56% of all Native American undergraduates are community college students. 

(Community College Daily)

According to a 2016 fact sheet on community college students demographics, there was a 6% drop in Native American undergraduates in community colleges. 

Among Hispanic students, the percentage dropped from 57% to 52% between 2015 and 2016. There was a 9% drop for African Americans in the same year. 

13. At 87%, Indiana and Louisiana have the highest community college acceptance rate in the US.

(Community College Review)

The national average acceptance rate for community colleges is 78% for the 2020-21 academic year. 

The average acceptance rate for public community colleges is approximately 83%. The average acceptance rate for private community colleges is around 74%.

14.  71% of students apply for some student aid, according to community college students statistics.

(American Association of Community Colleges)

71% of students at community colleges apply for some student aid or scholarship, which is the lowest overall percentage. 80% of all undergraduates apply for student aid, scholarship statistics show. 

The percentage of community college students who apply for federal student aid is 61%, compared to 70% of all undergraduates.

15. 12% of students at community colleges have some disability.


According to community college stats, 12% of students at community colleges indicate they have a disability. This applies to all students who are registered with the office of disabilities, but the actual number could be higher. 

Of all registered students with a disability, the majority claim they have a mental health problem (28%), followed by students with ADD (22%), orthopedic or mobility impairment (8%), hearing impairment (7%), and learning disability (6%). The remaining 29% have some other types of disability. 

16. The percentage of male students enrolling in community college is growing. 


Even though an increase in male students’ community college enrollment was more significant between 2007 and 2017, 57% of students in 2017 were female. 

Male and female enrollments were both higher in 2017 than in 2007.

17. In the 2018-19 academic year, 46% of the enrolled students were White. 


Almost half of the enrolled students in the fall of 2018 were White. The community college demographics show that only 6% of enrolled students were Asian. White students accounted for the majority of enrolled students at public two-year colleges (46%), followed by 13% of Black and 24% of Hispanic students. 

Both two-year and four-year colleges and universities need to continue improving and implementing diversity and inclusion strategies so that these percentages can go up in the future.

Community College Enrollment Trends Relevant in 2021

community college statistics 3

Since the cost of studying at four-year universities continues to rise, community college enrollment rates are continually growing as well. While some students prefer seeking employment, others transfer to a traditional four-year university from community colleges. 

However, the trends are changing every year, and the following are 2019 enrollment trends and statistics. Let’s find out more. 

18. The majority of the students are part-time students. 


As stated in community college students statistics, many community college students study part-time (63% compared to 37% full-time students). Combined with the lack of student support funding, it’s extremely challenging for community colleges to study full-time. 

They usually have to work and study simultaneously to put themselves through college. 

19.  Almost 60% of community college students who earn an associate degree don’t have student loan debt.  


Student loan debt is a huge problem for many students. However, according to AACC’s 2019 community college statistics report, fewer two-year college students graduate from colleges with student debt than for-profit or four-year university students. 

More than half of community college students don’t take any student loan. What’s more, 59% of community college students graduate without borrowing money for tuition. We can conclude that community colleges are affordable and accessible to almost any American interested in getting a college degree. 

20. 81% of community college students aspire to transfer to a four-year university. 

(The Century Foundation)

Community college transfer statistics show that 81% of students wish to transfer to a four-year university to receive a bachelor’s degree. 

Unfortunately, only 38% of community college students graduate within six years, and only 15% manage to transfer to a four-year university after six years. 

21. Around 28% of US community colleges provide on-campus housing, but only 1% of students live on campus. 

(Data Points)

On-campus accommodation is provided by about 28% of all community colleges, even though only 1% of community college students live on campus. Community colleges with residential housing can be found almost anywhere in the United States, although the number of dorms varies. 

Community College vs. University Statistics

Many people are convinced that university education provides students with better opportunities after graduation, such as better job prospects and a high salary. Some of them even look down on community college students. 

However, others argue that community college students are thrown in at the deep end, which is more beneficial to them in the long run. There are several differences between community colleges and four-year universities. Let’s take a closer look.

22. On average, community college costs $4,808 a year. 

(Community College Review)

The average tuition for in-state community college students is $4,808 per year. On the other hand, community college tuition for out-of-state students is almost twice as much, amounting to $8,586. 

Studying at a four-year university is much more expensive. The average undergraduate student pays around $26,290 per year. 

23. 75% of students at top-ranked universities are Caucasian. 

(The Hechinger Report)

According to university vs. community college statistics, 75% of students at 468 top-ranked and most selective traditional four-year universities are Caucasian. On the other hand, nearly 40% of students who enrolled at the lowest-ranked community colleges are African Americans or Hispanics. 

24. The basic course at a four-year university has between 150 and 300 students. 

(Money Crashers)

A basic class at a four-year university has around 200 students, while the same class at community college has approximately 30 students, based on community college data. That’s why community college students have more opportunities for direct communication with their professors. 

They can ask for help if they need to, which results in better overall academic performance. What’s more, professors are eager to help because they have fewer students and more time for them. 

25. More than 70% of university students have school debt, with around 20% of them owing more than $50,000.

(Value Colleges)

National community college statistics show that more than 70% of university students take out loans, while community college students leave school with almost no debt. University costs are much higher than community college costs, which is why university students are more likely to take out loans. 

Another advantage of community college students is that the US Department of Labor has injected $2 billion into community college job retraining programs, providing many job opportunities.

Community College Facts and Stats - Final Words

Many pros and cons come with studying at a community college. These statistics should come in handy if you’re an undergraduate, a freshman, or a student looking to transfer to a four-year university. Community colleges often get a bad reputation for having less demanding courses. Nevertheless, they come with many benefits and provide an excellent basis for finding good job opportunities.

Hopefully, these community college facts and figures will help you decide what’s best for you. For students from low-income backgrounds and those who study part-time, community college can be a better choice. Also, the two-year degree speeds up the process of finding employment and quickly enables students to become part of the job market. However, if continuing education is what they want, students can transfer to a four-year university of their choice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Almost half of all college students go to community college. In 2018, 33% of students attended public two-year colleges, according to federal data. On the other hand, 10.9 million students at four-year universities accounted for 65% of overall undergraduate enrollment. 

Due to COVID-19, community college enrollment dropped by 5.2% in 2020, compared with the previous year. That was the biggest change in enrollment since 2012. 

Fewer than 40% of community college students graduate within six years of enrollment. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 13% of community college students meet their goal to graduate in two years. 

By the second year, community colleges usually lose around 50% of students, and many leave for good. The percentage of students who graduate within three and four years is 22% and 28%, respectively.

Students under the age of 19 are least likely to drop out of college, followed by 30-year-olds or older. Students between the age of 20 and 29 are most likely to drop out. One of the biggest problems that could cause a student to drop out of college is tuition. 

Still, it’s common for students to drop out because they have difficulty passing a course. Computer science degrees have the highest number of students dropping out.

Across the United States, there are 1,050 community colleges. With 73 districts and 116 colleges, California Community Colleges is the largest higher education system in the US, providing opportunities for higher education to more than 2 million students a year. 

Walla Walla Community College in Washington, Santa Barbara City College in California, and Lake Area Technical Institute in South Dakota are considered to be the top three community colleges in the US. Other states with the largest number of public community colleges are Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, and New York.

Each year between 2000 and 2018, more and more students enrolled in both four-year and two-year universities and colleges. In 2018, around 26% of high school students enrolled in two-year institutions immediately after graduation. 

That percentage was higher for high school students who enrolled in four-year institutions immediately after graduation, standing at 44%. If we carefully observe community college statistics, we can see that the enrollment rate for two-year institutions was higher in 2018 than in 2000, increasing from 21% to 26%. 

A similar increase wasn’t recorded for immediate enrollment in four-year institutions after high school graduation, which indicates that more students are showing interest in community colleges.

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