As we celebrate National Community College Month in April, it is a great time to highlight the cost savings associated with attending Lurleeen B. Wallace Community College compared to four-year institutions. With high school graduations set next month, students and parents are likely thinking about the next step in the educational process. Students are often shocked to learn that postsecondary education is not free to attend. However, at LBWCC and other two- year colleges in Alabama, tuition and fees are much less costly than going straight to a four-year university. For less than half the cost, students can earn college credits for general education courses for the first two years of their chosen program of study before transferring to obtain a bachelor’s degree. As a comparison, in the most current information available online for the top six universities to which LBWCC graduates transfer, cost savings just for tuition and fees for full-time students can average between $1,884 to $4,014 each semester depending on the specific university. Over the course of four semesters, those savings could total $7,536 to $16,056 left in your pocket or not increasing with interest in a loan. Those figures do not include the cost of housing or transportation. Some universities are within a commuting distance to LBWCC’s service area, so be sure to calculate how much gas and vehicle maintenance it would cost to attend for two years on top of the higher tuition and fees. If attending other four-year institutions with housing required, then be sure to factor in the added cost of dormitory or apartment rent, utilities, and other related costs associated with living away from home. When in need of financial assistance to attend LBWCC, there are several opportunities students can pursue. The U.S. Department of Education offers Pell Grant funds to qualified students, which do not have to be repaid. The online application, available at www.fafsa. gov, opens October 1 each year. When applying for Pell Grant funds, be sure to supply LBW’s school code, 008988, so that our financial aid department will receive the information needed to process payments. Scholarships are also an avenue of financial assistance, whether through LBWCC, one of its two supporting foundations, or scholarships offered from organizations in the community and online. Additional funding opportunities include Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds through local workforce centers, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) funds for those who lost their job as a result of foreign trade, Vocational Rehabilitation scholarships, and U.S. military veterans educational assistance funds. In addition, LBWCC has a partnership with Nelnet Business Solutions to offer a tuition payment plan with up to three payments, depending on how quickly the application is received. Although LBW does not participate in the Federal Direct Student Loan Program, we cooperate with private lenders who offer alternative or private loans. LBWCC offers an online loan comparison tool called FASTChoice, which is designed to assist in making an educational loan choice that best suits the individual’s need. Please keep in mind, however, that FASTChoice is not a lender. Academic courses taken at LBWCC transfer to all public and most private four-year institutions in Alabama due to articulation agreements. It doesn’t matter what the student selects as a major, the basic academic courses available locally are taught at the same level by faculty required to have the same credentials as those teaching at universities. Considering the cost comparison, it makes good economic sense to enroll at LBWCC, earn an Associate Degree to enhance earning potential, then transfer to the four-year institution of your choice. There’s no better time to get started than summer semester.