Students can Graduate Debt-Free
Kiara Pichardo earned an associate degree from Northern Essex with honors in May, and the good news is that she graduated without owing a dime for her education.
The hard-working Lawrence resident paid for her first two years of college with the help of federal grants and NECC scholarships, and by working part time during the school year and full time during the summers.
At a time when the cost of college is rising and more and more students are graduating with burdensome debt, Northern Essex Community College students—like Pichardo— are bucking the trend. Close to three quarters of Northern Essex students graduate debt-free and for those who do take out federal loans
their average debt when they graduate is only $4,287.*
With Northern Essex’s affordability, it’s not surprising that students are finding ways to manage the cost without incurring debt. A three-credit course is just over $600, and a full-time student can expect to pay just over $3,000 in tuition and fees for one semester, which is a bargain when compared to the cost of four-year colleges and universities (see chart). A student attending Northern Essex for two years and then transferring to UMass Lowell, for example, could earn his or her bachelor’s degree for close to $30,000, providing they qualify for the tuition discount based on their grades at Northern Essex.
For families, starting at a community college can be a wise financial choice. In a short period of time, students can earn the skills and credentials that will lead to a career in a field such as health care or prepare for transfer to a four-year college or university. This fall, Pichardo is enrolled at Fitchburg State University, living on campus, and pursuing a degree in theater. She says that many of her friends have already accrued hefty college debt and that “It feels awesome” to have paid out-of-pocket for her first two years of college.
2 YEARS NECC = $12,040
2 YEARS NECC + 2 YEARs PUBLIC COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY = $34,912
4 YEARS PUBLIC COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY = $45,744
2 YEARS NECC + 2 YEARs PRIVATE COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY = $90,526
4 YEARS PRIVATE COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY = $156,972
*Based on tuition and fees. Source: 2014 figures according to College Board. NECC cost of attendance is
based on June 2015 prices and is subject to change, please visit www.necc.mass.edu for latest info.