COLUMN: Financial aid differences from community college to Eastern


Rob Le Cates

Katja Benz is a senior English major and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Katja Benz, Columinst

I went to community college and transferred to Eastern last year.

Community college has this perception, to most people I talked to, that it is basically high school 2.0. Some people thought that I was just going to two more years of high school.

People seemed to be flabbergasted to hear that my entire community college experience costs less than the cost that an on campus student pays for one year to live in a residence hall.

Living on Eastern’s campus for the 2022-23 school year costs a student $10,394. That is assuming that the student gets the 12+ meal plan.

For two years at the community college I went to, sixty credit hours cost $8,010. Sixty credits takes approximately two years to complete and many students have jobs off campus and had to pay a variety of different bills.

For example, I can’t drive. Because of that, I had to take the bus to and from class everyday. I had to pay for that out of pocket, meaning that was not included in my bill.

On the other hand, now I don’t have to pay for bus fees, because I walk everywhere that I need or want to go.

When I was looking at the cost of attendance for Eastern, I was surprised to see a few things. First of all, I noticed that the fees are different at each school.

For example, my community college just lists how much the cost per credit hour is for each individual student type.Whereas at Eastern, fees are included in the entire cost of attendance.

Students have to pay fees, regardless of how many credit hours they are taking, just because they are attending Eastern.

The second thing I noticed is that the cost of attendance is for the whole year at Eastern. On the other hand, at my community college, they only shared things the students needed to know about costs for the semester.

While I understand that many students are worried about how much Eastern costs for the entire year, they will also be worried about how much they are paying per semester.

It isn’t like students can split the bill down the middle. Students and their families are looking for itemized bills so that they can plan ahead and move around money to be able to afford school.

Finally, I’ve noticed that many students expect to pay for the entire year and do not get it explained that the cost of attendance as well as financial aid packages is for the whole year, whereas they expect to get money for attendance twice.

While it makes sense to me, it may not make sense to others. I just wish that everything was explained to every student when they need it.

Katja Benz is a senior English major. She can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.