Community college pays off, both financially and academically.

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Attending a smaller community college for the first two years of school can result in reduced tuition costs and living expenses – particularly if you plan to transfer to a four-year university.

The average yearly tuition and fees at a public two-year college is $3,440, while a public four-year college is almost three times the cost, at $9,410, according to the College Board. For example, the average savings of attending two years at Shoreline Community College and then transferring to a public or private institution is $41,424, according to Shoreline’s estimates.

A Direct Transfer Agreement (DTA) associate degree – sometimes called an associate degree — is designed to transfer credits as a package to Washington state universities, and select private colleges.

This two-year degree satisfies lower-division general education requirements and grants students junior standing. But the skills and coursework at a community college can be an affordable way to prepare for the rigor and environment of a four-year university.

At Shoreline, established DTA arrangements with many Washington state universities are available, and the school’s planning guides for each pre-major help students select courses that prep them for success in a four-year degree program, and maximize tuition dollars.

Not sure whether to pursue a career path as oceanographer or cinematographer? Even undecided students can save money, by trying out areas of study for lower per-credit rates – helpful if the DTA offers the opportunity to explore several fields of study with up to 30 elective credits, or even prepare for a double major.

But both financially and academically, community college pays off.

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