Diana Furchtgott-Roth of Market Watch makes a good case here.

Four reasons to choose community college

Community colleges can boost economic mobility through their transfer and career functions, which are especially valuable to students who have been most adversely affected by recent economic trends and need help in order to enter rewarding careers.

Data from Florida show that if low-income and low-achieving students attain credentials in high-return fields, such as health care, they can find well-paying jobs, earning approximately $45,000 when they enter the workforce and $60,000 after seven years. Students need to get training that will propel them to worthwhile careers.

Jobs in health-care services, such as a physician’s assistant, occupational therapist, and nurse, are growing. Throughout the recession and the sluggish recovery, jobs in health services have never declined. This is partly due to the aging population, and partly because, unlike with some discretionary purchases, people cannot time when to get sick.

Here are four reasons to choose a two-year community college program over a four-year degree program.

1. Cost. Community colleges offer a broad range of high-quality courses at a low tuition cost of about $3,130 annually — about 35% of the cost of a attending a public four-year college, and 10% or less of private four-year college expenses.

2. Location, location, location. Community colleges are widely distributed throughout America and offer classes at convenient times and locations, making it possible for students to live at home while working and meeting family responsibilities. Overall, 1,130 community colleges enroll 13 million students.

3. Wide Enrollment. Community colleges offer enrollment to students with a variety of educational backgrounds, from top students who can’t afford to attend a four-year college to students who lack the credentials to get into a four-year college to recent immigrants who may have a different educational background than those in the U.S.

4. High Payoff. Many high-return fields, such as health care, computer programming, building trades, and protective services are open to community-college students with relatively low high-school GPAs. Community colleges play a major role in increasing the earnings of students who would have difficulty boosting their career prospects by completing the four-year programs required to enter high-return fields.