Top Three Cheapest Community Colleges in the United States

The top 3 cheapest community colleges in the US are located in California, New Mexico and North Carolina.

The lowest out of state cost per credit is $44!

$44 per Credit?  

Resident, non-resident - in state, out of state, it doesn't matter.

Wow! That's cheap. 

Bad news... only the first six credits are $44.

Enroll for more than six credits you pay $218 per credit.

If you are only looking to stave off your student loans coming due... this could work nicely.

According to the Federal Student Aid office your Direct, FFEL and Perkins loans can be deferred (indefinitely) if you are attending a college or career school at least part time (six credits).  

Where can I find this fabled, low tuition rate community college? I hear you ask....


Let's see, should I choose:

  • $88 per month in tuition.
  • $800 per month loan payment.  


My Experience at New Mexico Clovis Community College Online

California Community Colleges

The average yearly cost of resident tuition and fees for a California community college is $780.

Many California community colleges have waiting lists for enrollment and they charge out of state students (even distance learning students) a hefty $207 per credit. 

Buf if you live in the great state of CA -- California residents skate almost free at a mere $26 per unit enrollment fee.

You can find a search engine for California community college online degrees and courses from California Virtual Campus.

The network of California Community Colleges is the largest higher education system in the United States. They serve more than 2.9 million students. That would be similar to providing a post-secondary education for every citizen above the age of 16 in the entire country of New Zealand. There are 72 districts and 112 community colleges.

New Mexico Community Colleges

New Mexico has nine community colleges. The average yearly cost for resident tuition and fees is $1,125.

Central New Mexico community college offers 225 online courses for credit making them one of the largest public distance learning institutions in the nation.

Happily, New Mexico community colleges offer a graduated tuition rate, making them my first choice in the top 3 cheapest community colleges.

Non resident tuition rates:

Full Time,
12-18 credit hours = $2,616

Per Credit Hour
1-6 credit hours = $44 per credit hour.
7-11 credit hours = $218 per credit hour.
more than 18 credit hours: $2616 plus $218 per credit hour.

In case you don't see the significance... you can take up to 6 credits at only $44 each. This allows you to get your feet wet in a part-time program for a very low cost.

These are the nine New Mexico Community Colleges;

▪ Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque
▪ Clovis Community College, Clovis
▪ Dona Ana Community College, Las Cruces
▪ Luna Community College, Las Vegas
▪ Mesalands Community College, Tucumcari
▪ New Mexico Junior College, Hobbs
▪ New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell
▪ San Juan College, Farmington
▪ Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe

A sample of online degrees and certificates available from Clovis Community College

Online Degrees
Online Certificates

North Carolina Community Colleges

North Carolina has 58 community colleges. The average yearly cost for resident tuition and fees is $1,684. You can search for online programs and courses from North Carolina Virtual Learning Community.

In-State Tuition

Full-time (16 or more Credits): $923.25
Part-time (1-11 Credits): $59.75 per Credit
In-State students enrolled for 12 Credits are classified as “full-time”; however, an additional $59.75 is charged per Credit up to a maximum of 16 Credits with no additional charge over 16 Credits.

Out-of-State Tuition

Full-time (16 or more Credits): $3,995.25
Part-time (1-11 Credits): $251.75 per Credit