The 10 Best Community Colleges by Cost and Quality

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Long distance learning between doctor and student via laptop teleconference
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Going to a four-year university is a huge undertaking for students and families, especially when it comes to paying for it. Parents spend years socking away whatever money they can to help their kids afford higher education. Often, that’s still not enough.

Community colleges, also known as junior colleges, offer college classes at less cost.

The College Board reports that the average cost of tuition and fees at a public two-year school for the 2019-2020 academic year was $3,730. That’s compared with $10,440 at a public four-year institution and a mind-blowing $36,880 for a private nonprofit four-year school.

In its latest annual analysis of U.S. community colleges, WalletHub gives each school an overall score, with a possible total of 100 points. The report ranks schools by the scores, which take into account measurements of the cost of an education and students’ educational and career outcomes.

Here are the member institutions of the American Association of Community Colleges that WalletHub ranks highest.

10. Orange Coast College

Orange Coast College
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Total score: 66.96 of 100 points

Orange Coast College‘s 164-acre campus is based in Southern California’s Orange County, in the city of Costa Mesa, and near the famous “OC” beaches. OCC gives students a choice of more than 135 career and academic and programs.

9. Casper College

Casper, Wyoming
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Total score: 67.15 of 100 points

A separate WalletHub analysis recently ranked Casper, Wyoming, among the best cities for retirees, as we detail in “The 10 Best Places to Retire in 2020.” But that’s not the city’s only recent honor: Casper College, based in the city of Casper, is ranked as the No. 9 community college in the nation.

The institution boasts that it offers students 140 academic transfer programs and technical and career programs. In fact, 11 universities offer advanced degrees at Casper College through a partnership program.

The 200-acre campus embraces 28 buildings. In the 2019-2020 school year, some 4,970 students were enrolled.

8. Alexandria Technical & Community College

College student studying
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Total score: 67.43 of 100 points

Based in Alexandria, Minnesota, Alexandria Technical & Community College offers a diverse menu of studies, including cybersecurity, diesel mechanics and exercise science. You also can study to become a marine, motorcycle and powersports technician or learn advanced precision machining skills. It’s no wonder WalletHub ranked the institution No. 5 in the nation in the category of career outcomes.

7. Ohlone College

Ohlone College
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Total score: 67.71 of 100 points

Ohlone College, another community college in California, enrolls some 15,000 students per year. The school has two campuses, in Newark and Fremont, and offers classes online. Students choose from among 189 associate degrees and certificates, including 27 associate degrees for transfer and 45 associate degrees.

6. Northwestern Connecticut Community College

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Total score: 68.02 of 100 points

Northwestern Connecticut Community College has the third-lowest rate of student loan defaults of the 698 schools in the WalletHub analysis.

NCCC is based in Winsted, Connecticut, and classes also are offered online. Students choose from a variety of course and career offerings in fields as diverse as criminal justice, health information management, veterinary technology, digital publishing, manufacturing technology and interpreter training.

5. Northern Wyoming Community College District

Sheridan, Wyoming
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Total score: 68.07 of 100 points

Northern Wyoming Community College District schools prides itself on its community connections and state-of-the-art facilities, and on the personalized attention and active lifestyle that it offers students — with campuses near Yellowstone National Park, the Black Hills, and the Bighorn Mountains.

NWCCD comprises Sheridan College in Sheridan and Gillette College in Gillette as well as an outreach center in Buffalo.

4. Northwest Iowa Community College

Sheldon, Iowa
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Total score: 68.27 of 100 points

Northwest Iowa Community College, based in Sheldon, Iowa, serves a region with a population of 68,590 as of the 2010 census. While it’s ranked the No. 4 community college overall, NICC is ranked No. 2 in the nation in the category of career outcomes, according to WalletHub. It also ranks No. 4 for its graduation rate.

3. College of San Mateo

Senior student studying
Jacob Lund /

Total score: 69.17 of 100 points

The 153-acre campus of College of San Mateo is in the hills above San Mateo, a Silicon Valley city. About 10,000 students attend day, weekend and evening classes during the fall and spring semesters. The school is home to champion intercollegiate athletic teams.

2. Arkansas State University-Mountain Home

College student at library
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Total score: 69.78 of 100 points

Arkansas State University-Mountain Home is a relatively young institution, established in 1995 in Mountain Home, Arkansas. The school has been working with local industry and employers to develop technical programs, including in automotive service, heating/ventilation/air conditioning/refrigeration and mechatronics — a field combining electronics, mechanics and computing.

1. State Technical College of Missouri

Father and son at graduation
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Total score: 74.5 of 100 points

State Technical College of Missouri, based in Linn, Missouri, earns WalletHub’s highest overall score in the publiation’s latest annual analysis of community colleges — a study of 698 community colleges across the U.S. Additionally, the college ranks No. 3 in the nation in the category of career outcomes and No. 5 in the nation in the category of education outcomes.

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