For the second year in a row, Butler County Community College has been recognized as offering the most affordable tuition in the region.
U.S. Department of Education College Scoreboard data reveals BC3’s net annual tuition of about $4,700 was the lowest among 43 public and private institutions in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia. The second lowest was Westmoreland County Community College at $7,993. The most affordable tuition among five regional Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities was $14,612; and among 21 regional private institutions, $18,117.
The data also showed BC3’s salary-to-cost ratio of 7.45 was also the highest compared to other schools. West Virignia University had a second-highest ratio of 4.79. The highest salary-to-cost ratio among five regional Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities was 2.61; and among the 21 private institutions, 2.81.
The ratio is a measurement of graduates’ salaries 10 years after commencement for every dollar a student pays to attend the institution.
BC3 President Dr. Nick Neupauer says the findings illustrate the importance of a student’s return on investment.
“With the average debt load exceeding $36,000, it is incredibly important for students and parents to consider what a degree costs, the starting wage in a particular field, and factor in debt load,” Neupauer said. “You also have to consider that for many jobs, the appropriate terminal degree isn’t the master’s or the bachelor’s. It’s the associate degree.”
Pennsylvania college students owe an average of $36,193 in student-loan debt, the highest in the nation, LendEdu reported Aug. 8. Seventy-five percent of BC3 graduates are debt-free. Additionally, the BC3 Education Foundation awards nearly $200,000 in scholarships annually.
“There are an increasing number of students who utilize BC3 as part of a proactive plan tied to affordability, possibly graduating debt-free and the appropriate terminal degree,” Neupauer said. “We are seeing more and more of that.”
BC3’s Classes of 2017, with 585 graduates, and of 2018, with 578, have been its largest this century. The average salary of a BC3 student 10 years after graduation is $35,200 – an increase of $1,500 from 2017 U.S. Department of Education data, according to the college.
BC3 has six locations in eight counties. Its main campus is in Butler Township.