There are more than 25 community colleges in Florida, and each year, more than 59,000 students make the same choice, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Rather than heading to any other institution to build on their educations, they choose Valencia College. To them, it’s the best place to earn a degree, gain knowledge, and otherwise make life just a little bit better.
If you’re considering Valencia College, there’s a lot for you to be excited about. This article will give you the information you need to make the most of your time at school, while keeping your expenses under control.
An analysis from PBS suggests that only 15 percent of students who attend community colleges like Valencia College come from high-income homes. The rest of the students come from low-income or middle-income families.
That might be because Valencia College and community colleges like it are designed to provide a great starter education at a reasonable fee. You might not be able to complete your 4-year degree at Valencia, but you will be able to take challenging classes that can get you one step closer to your long-term goals. The amount of tuition you’ll pay for those classes is just a fraction of what you might be asked to pay if you had enrolled at in the university level.
Students at Valencia College want to further their careers, but they want to get a good value for the cost they’re paying in tuition. They might be willing to have jobs or otherwise make money to cover at least some of the cost of heading to class.
At Valencia College, you might also meet a number of students from different backgrounds. A USA Today report suggests that community colleges can be a boon for nontraditional students, like older students, who want to brush up on educational skills without diving back into the university environment. These students might also have jobs to attend to, or they might have employment histories they can use to deepen and explain course materials.
The Valencia College Model
Valencia College can take on so many students because it has so many campus options available. Each campus is designed to cater to a slightly different type of student, according to the school’s website.
The East Campus, located in Orlando, is home to performing arts and creative ventures. Students who want to study music, film, dance, and performing arts will likely take most classes in this campus.
The West Campus is also in Orlando, and it tends to focus on technical students. If you’re interested in engineering, math, health, or architecture, your classes will likely be held inside this campus.
The Osceola Campus, in Kissimmee, has classes in chemistry, physics, and biology. These are classes most students in the sciences would be required to take, but if you’re planning to major in a field like this, your classes will likely be held here.
The Winter Park Campus, named as such because it’s located in Winter Park, doesn’t seem to have a specialty. Instead, it seems to be a collective campus that holds many of the same sorts of classes seen in the other Valencia College campus locations.
The Lake Nona Campus, in Orlando, is made specifically for students who want to focus on careers in medicine and/or biotechnology. If you’re at all interested in these fields, your classes are likely to be held in this spot.
Places to Live
Valencia College doesn’t provide any housing options for students, according to the school’s website, so students are required to find their own homes. While there is bus service to each and every campus, it makes sense for students to live close to the campus spots that focus on the fields they’re interested in. That proximity can reduce the need for long commute times and money spent on bus passes.
Thankfully, the cost of living in Orlando, where most of the campus centers are located, isn’t as high as it might be in other parts of the country. Numbeo suggests that the consumer price index for Orlando is 76.62 (compared to New York City, where the index sits at a cool 100). That means Orlando is much less expensive than the Big Apple, and it might be easy enough to make college life even cheaper.
Students who live with other students in roommate situations can share all sorts of costs, including those associated with rent, utilities, and food. They may buy food in bulk and make big meals, which is a lot less expensive than cooking smaller meals alone.
Since Orlando is considered a major tourist destination by websites like Forbes, clever students might find that it’s easy enough to rent out their rooms in the summertime to families who want a cheap place to crash while they see the sights. This sort of rent option may not be right for everyone, but it could be a good way for some people to drum up quick cash for their tuition bills.
Students who want to live a little closer to Winter Park, to take advantage of the classes held on that campus, should be prepared to pay just a little more. According to AreaVibes.com, the cost of living in Winter Park is a whopping 18 percent higher than the rate seen in the rest of Florida. Housing, in particular, is quite costly.
Students living with parents, relatives, or friends may not be concerned about this issue. After all, they have others helping them with the tab. But those who want to move to Winter Park for class should be ready to pay the extra fees involved with living in that region.
Thankfully, most students of Valencia College won’t need to worry or fret about costs concerning gasoline. Typically, costs for gas tend to rise in places that can only get gas through shipments. That means people who live in landlocked states with no oil reserves often have to pay very high prices at the pump. If you’re living in Florida, on the other hand, your prices aren’t typically at the high end of the spectrum, according to AAA.
That could be mean you won’t have to worry about filling up the car with gas in order to take a class at another Valencia College campus.
Even though you might not pay a ton for tuition, and even though you might be able to find a way to make room and board easier to pay for, you might still need a little financial assistance in order to make ends meet. Thankfully, there are a number of options available to you.
The Florida Department of Education provides a number of state scholarships and grants, including:
- The Bright Futures Scholarship
- The Rosewood Family Scholarship
- The Florida Resident Access Grant
- The Florida Student Assistance Grant
Pay attention to the deadlines for these scholarships and grants, as many end at unusual times. You’ll need to beat the clock in order to get the money you need for school.
Scholarships and grants are ideal because they provide you with money that you’ll never have to pay back. The competition for these grants can be fierce, and sometimes, students find that they just can’t get these grants, even though they’ve tried very hard to do so. There just might be too many other students who are also very interested in free money.
There are student loans at the federal level just for students like this, and the Valencia College financial aid office makes the application process really easy. If you’re interested in this option, you’ll simply visit the office and ask for a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or FAFSA). All of the information you’ll provide on that form will be fed into federal databases, and when the numbers are crunched, you’ll be provided with a letter that outlines what you’re eligible for. If you accept those loans, you’ll sign a promissory note, take a loan training class, and get your money. It’s a simple process, and the financial staff at Valencia College can work with you to ensure that you do everything just right.
If your job provides you with a touch too much money, or if your family has a great deal of money, you might find that you simply can’t get the low-cost loans you’re looking for from federal or state sources. If that happens, you don’t need to put your education plans on hold. There are private organizations that can help you to get the money you’ll need for school. These private loans don’t come with the protections of federal loans, so it’s vital for you and your family to read all of the fine print carefully, but they could be helpful for you if money is keeping you away from your dream of a higher education.
Going to Valencia College
If you’re ready to get started on a Florida education, Valencia College could be a great first step for you. Here, you’ll complete the foundation courses you’ll build upon at the university level, and you’ll pick up habits that will help you succeed in an institution of higher learning. And you’ll do all that while saving a little bit of money, too. By choosing Valencia College, you could be making an excellent choice.
If you’d like to know more about your funding options, we’re here to help. We can help you scout out the scholarships you never knew existed, and we can help you to find out more about private loans that can fill the gaps in your budget so you can stay in school.