Community College Penalty

Bad news for those who attend a Community College first. They don’t know why yet, I look forward to those results: 


Average annual earnings by education:

Final degree earned No asso-ciate degree With asso-ciate degree
Bachelor’s $54,667 $52,022
Master’s 61,323 56,997
Doctorate 71,246 62,906
Professional 79,491 70,349

Source: The Federal Bank of St. Louis, based on data from the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates


33 Responses to “Community College Penalty”

  1. 1 Michael Huddleston March 19, 2009 at 3:31 PM

    I love how Natalia Kolesnikova, the economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, says, “It is important for individuals to know both the benefits and the disadvantages of attending a community college when making decisions about education.” But doesn’t expound on the disadvantages or the advantages. Granted she doesn’t understand the meaning of the data but what is one disadvantage of going to a two-year community college first??

  2. 2 O'King Kole March 19, 2009 at 5:29 PM

    This is crazy on how people who go to a community college earn less than a person that went straight to a 4-year college. Maybe it is a penalty for people going to a cheaper school to finish the general education first than moving to a 4-year. I really wonder why??

  3. 3 wordtown March 19, 2009 at 6:17 PM

    I think that going to a community college is beneficial in lots of ways. It prepares you for the high level classes you will take at a higher school. I don’t see how going to a community college can lead to making less money in the future. As long as you focus and know your field it shouldn’t be a problem.

  4. 4 quique March 19, 2009 at 7:11 PM

    I don’t believe that this is fair for the students that can’t afford to go straight to four year colleges. Even though their are means of financial aid it does not apply for all people. Although it is fair to say that the teaching might not be the same as if you were at a four year, I don’t think that the students are to be blamed.

  5. 5 Gaby Corona March 19, 2009 at 9:24 PM

    Attending a community college should not be a punishment, which will affect us in the future. Clearly this data states that we will earn less money than those who attended a four year university straight from high school. In my opinion I don’t think attending a junior college before has any negative sides. Students are still taking the general education, and preparing to take harder classes when they transfer to a four year university.

  6. 6 Keith C March 19, 2009 at 10:05 PM

    Wow, that’s some really unfortunate news. Perhaps it is the way in which four year university’s prepare students for the workforce compared to the way that community colleges prepare them that ends up making a difference in the long run. The added confidence boost that comes from a successful school career may end up being what is making the difference in salary figures.

  7. 7 Heidi11 March 20, 2009 at 6:20 PM

    It doesn’t make much sense that those who go to community college first should be penalized. Upon graduation from a 4-year, you are awarded with a degree for your major–classes that are typically or exclusively taken at the 4-year school. Any general education classes taken at a community college should not taint the degree in any way. I hope this is merely a loose correlation without any legitimate cause-and-effect relationship.

  8. 8 Tanisha Econ101/Tuesdays March 25, 2009 at 1:36 PM

    I’m having a hard time understanding why a student who attends a community college first will earn less money. Shouldn’t how much you make be determined by how much you know? Or, depending on the job itself? So what the cost of attending a community college is cheaper. The education is the same… The time put in is the same… Is it the words “community college” that make the pay go down? This is horrible and discouraging…

  9. 9 SMCecon March 29, 2009 at 6:35 PM

    It’s unfortunate that an article like this would make an associates degree sound like a negative. Well the statistics seem to point towards a lower yearly salary I’m sure there are numerous other factors that contribute to lower salaries. Those other factors should have been taken into account in this article. I agree with Heidi11 and I too think this is probably a loose correlation.

  10. 10 Kelli C March 31, 2009 at 11:43 AM

    Not everyone has a choice on whether or not they can afford to go to attend a four year college right away. I don’t think people should judge a persons ability just because they attended a community college for their first two years. Also, during students first two years, it is mostly general education that is studied and that doesn’t always have much to do with peoples intended major, so their is no reason to descriminate between people who started by attending a four year college and those who switched after two years. I think it shows peoples determination to do well, by switching from a community college to a private one. And depending on how hard people work in school, the student who attended a community college frist could be more prepared for life after college than the person who attended their college all four years.

  11. 11 nancy moussa April 5, 2009 at 7:44 PM

    I do not think that this is fair to community college students at all. I think that the education and information students recieve is the same, it’s just a less expensive way to get some of your schooling done. I don’t think attending a community college has a negative effect.

  12. 12 Monica Cooper April 7, 2009 at 7:38 AM

    Although I don’t know the particulars of this study, or everything that was taken into account, it seems to me that these statistics are, or at least may be, misleading. For years we have heard all about how working women make less than working men. Politicians and activists have worked tirelessly to fix this supposed inequality however, a closer look shows that this statement although true in one sense, is inaccurate in another. Per hour, women actually make more money than men. However in the course of a lifetime, a woman is more likely than a man to take extended time off work, for things like maternity leave or taking time off to raise children. Therefore women make less over the course of there lives not because they are paid less but because they work fewer hours.

    Many community college students have taken time off between high school and college. Furthermore many of the same students cannot take on full school loads because they also work or have family responsibilties. It therefore takes longer for them to graduate and longer to get into high paying jobs. Perhaps community college students make less over the course of their lives, but that does not mean that they are making less per year than those who went straight into four year colleges.

  13. 13 Luis Orozco 101 April 7, 2009 at 5:47 PM

    i think it depemds more on how good or bad you manage your career than if you attended community college before university.

  14. 14 lalves April 11, 2009 at 7:21 PM

    Although it is unfortunate that people who go to a community college first make less money than a person who goes straight to a four year university, it does make sense. For example, I would hope that going to Saint Marys for four years straight would put me in a better position to make more money than someone who only went here for two years. Afterall, I put in the time and the money at a four year university. If I had thought that I wouldn’t be better off by going to a four year university right after highschool, or if not everyone thought that, then most logical people would go to a community college and save tons of money. But at the same time, I believe if someone is good enough at their job, regardless of their schooling, they will succeed.

  15. 15 NicoleMB April 22, 2009 at 12:13 PM

    This is really interesting. I am so curious why this is. I don’t mean to offend anybody at all in saying this I suppose I can lend my opinion. So, it seems the people who have no associate degree but have earned some kind of final degree have just gone to university upon graduating high school. All the people I have known that have gotten an associate degree are not people who have gone to college right from high school. I’ve seen a lot of situations where a person who is working toward an associate degree is usually coming back to school because they’ve already been out in the real world and they want to try to better themselves. My older sister, for example, got married and had kids while she was young but now she’s divorced and she went back to college for an associate degree to try to climb up the career ladder. So, that being said, maybe the people who go straight to a university for a degree are more driven to look for higher paying jobs while those who start out at community college first for an associate degree are inching their way up the income ladder. Then again I know this is only a subsection of those who attend community college before transferring on so I really have no idea what the reason behind these results are but it’s very curious.

  16. 16 NK April 22, 2009 at 10:32 PM

    This article doesn’t really prove much to me. Everyone knows UC’s and State schools are better than junior colleges they also cost I would say double or more easily after you consider housing, tuition and everything associated with going away to school. I think junior colleges do the job they are meant to do, prepare you for a university and also not kill your bank account. Junior colleges also give those who do not know exactly what trade or profession they want to get into a chance to figure that out. The couple thousand dollars more people are making from getting their degree without an associate degree is most likely going to paying off their loan for school in a lot of cases anyways.

  17. 17 Leonardo Sanchez ECON 101 April 29, 2009 at 2:25 PM

    This data is researched and accurate under there eyes yes but we as a college bound student society know that by going to a

    college is not only good with this economy but it helps us mature from high school lifestyle to a mature college do home-

    work then evolving into a university book maniac. in other words a person cannot want to crawl then want to jump and swim. People

    that take baby steps do the work better than a person that goes
    to the big leagues right away. Hey if they do make more money

    than us (im not going to say it’s o.k because it’s not) but im going to say that we are all trying as humans to make it

    to the top wheather people take the same road or not.

  18. 18 Emily Bonzi May 4, 2009 at 8:40 PM

    This is a very interesting collection of data, however I cannot see the connection. A person has a PHD regardless whether or not they started at community college. There must be other factors at play here that are not being acknowledged. However, I do agree with a few others who did mention the majority of people who goes straight to college after high school may be more driven and school oriented than those that choose a longer path to a degree, and may be a reflection of the work ethic in general.

  19. 19 Tracy Thomas May 12, 2009 at 12:20 PM

    I think that more study needs to be down to prove this. As far as i was concerned a degree is a degree and it’s up to you with what you do with it. I think that they need to take into account that people who atttend a four year school and don’t go to community college first may have other factors involved. i think it’s hard to catorgize two different groups of people. I think it’s completely up to the individual to make the most of there degree.

  20. 20 Lucy Hwang May 13, 2009 at 3:29 PM

    I don’t think this is a kind of discrimination. Well, I’m over simplifing here but normally University > CC. I don’t say CC students are all failure. However, compare with students who study hard, participate a lot for four or more years? Of course there are good students at CC too, but compare to university, who will likely have a bad student who doesn’t try hard at all but looking for getting ‘graduation from some kind of college’

    I really believer whereever you go, whatever you do, if you’re good, you will get right treatment. Maybe network affect good university students to get a job easier… but I don’t see CC students income is less because of jsut the fact they came out from CC. It shouldn’t be!

  21. 21 Jim Castilone May 14, 2009 at 2:56 PM

    This is really unfortunate for people who go to community college especially since I have always been such a large advocate for it. I don’t understand this because so many CSUs suggest for students to go to CCC first and transfer anfter two years. I would be interested to learn more about where these findings came from.

  22. 22 B's May 15, 2009 at 8:56 AM

    One of the main reasons for someone to go to a community college is to save money because most families cannot afford to send their children to a 4 year college right out of high school. Well if these students are making less money for going to the community college then it could become a thing that happens to each generation because they aren’t making as much money which means they are looking for areas to save such as community college. Community college should not be looked down on because they also help to get students ready for the tougher classes at the next level.

  23. 23 Cole Scharton May 17, 2009 at 12:21 PM

    This is an extremely interesting post. I have always been curious to the differences of income because of starting at a CC and transferring up for your degree. While some may complain about this, it is important to remember With asso-ciate degree Bachelor’s $52,022 is still higher than it would be if you did not get the bachelor’s at all (It may be less than without an associate degree, but its better than no degree at all). I suppose this is a cause and effect. College is an investment, the more you pay the more you get back?

  24. 24 Britany Linton May 17, 2009 at 7:48 PM

    I don’t see why people who attend a community college would earn less than those who go to a 4-year. Maybe it is more respectable to attend a known university that is more expensive? Is that fair to penalize someone with the same degree with less money? If anything they are the ones who need the higher paying jobs. It just doesn’t seem fair. It’s judging a book by its cover, reading the name of the school instead of the knowledge of the student.

  25. 25 Simon Kudus May 17, 2009 at 7:56 PM

    Well, I bet there other factors. I’m guessing that people that go to community college spend more time obtaining their degree and as a result are spending less time on average in the field. Thus not accumulating the same about of money. The trade-off of time and money.

  26. 26 Robert LaVoy May 17, 2009 at 11:47 PM

    This information has been available for some time now. That’s why i was surprised to read in that other article that the community college enrollment rates are sky high. It goes to show that is pays to stay in school

  27. 27 Santi Orona May 18, 2009 at 10:08 PM

    There are always positives and negatives of every decision. Many attend community college because they cannot afford a four year university, or want to stay close to home. However, these numbers show that there is also a negative side to attending community college. I don’t really understand the numbers, but I feel fortunate to currently be attending a four year university.

  28. 28 Amanda Smith July 17, 2009 at 3:51 PM

    I dont see how this is accurate. And since these professionals cant explain it either, it doesnt bother me too much. Maybe those who go straight to a 4-year college get paid more because their bosses feel sorry for them…what with all the student loans they have to pay off.

  29. 29 stacey smarker August 5, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    This article is very intersting. I don’t agree with this data. I always thought that you had to have your associates degree to move on. I can see how this can affect the student in the learning force. If you go to a UC you are going to pay more, get done faster and more experience, vers the community college where you have to take longer in your GE and then transfer and. With the CC you might not enter the work force as soon as others would if you were in a UC.

  30. 30 E. Speizer August 5, 2009 at 10:13 PM

    At first I was befuddled by these stats, but I quickly came to a realization. I think with junior college students, you’re dealing with somewhat a pool of lower intellectuals. I’m not saying that most people who attend community colleges are dumb, but from what i’ve experienced, there are certainly smarter, more hard working people at four year universities. Being smart and hard working is a good combination to have, so it’s no wonder that these stats exist.

  31. 31 Amanda Chow October 5, 2009 at 6:10 PM

    That is very puzzling why a 4-year college graduate would earn more than someone who attended a 2-year community college first. One variable could be the “whole” college experience, but then on the other hand the student who goes to a community college is saving more money. I believe that if you pay for a higher education then you will benefit from it more in the long run.

  32. 32 Tiffany Molinar December 16, 2009 at 5:12 PM

    This is really disheartening. Seeing these numbers. Especially since I know so many people who attend community collge, including myself. I’ve always heard that it doesn’t matter if you go to a 4 year right away or start off at a community college. I went to CSU Eastbay, but only for a semester so I think I’m still considered a community college student. I don’t know how much these numbers are true but it is definitely something to think about for the upcoming college students.

  33. 33 angela December 16, 2009 at 5:53 PM

    interesting data but don´t see there is a connection with someone´s income. There are people with just associates degree that sometimes make more than someone with a bachelor and this is thrrough hard work. I do believe in higher education and I don´t think this data really refects what happen with professional that go to community college first. Even people with phd sometimes make less than someone with bachelor.

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