College tuition is always on the rise, and financing a full college education isn't easy. For students and families who are not able to pay for a four-year degree, or who don't want to take out loans to finance a higher education, an associate's degree is a more affordable option.


According to the College Board, as of 2010, the average cost of tuition for a two-year associate's degree is $2,544 per year. Some associate's degrees will cost more than this, while others cost less. This price estimate also doesn't include possible awards, scholarships, grants or other financial assistance.

How it Compares

Overall, two-year associate's degrees from community colleges are much more affordable than four-year degrees. The College Board cites the average in-state tuition cost for a public four-year college as $7,020 per year, while the average cost for out-of-state students is $11,528 per year. For private universities, the average annual cost of tuition is $26,273.

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Other Considerations

Associate's degrees are less versatile than degrees from four-year colleges and not suitable for all professions. Some positions require four-year degrees. Obtaining an associate's degree rather than a bachelor's degree is better suited for vocational fields of study and entry-level positions.

About the Author

Michelle Labbe has been writing online and for print since 2004. Her work has appeared in the online journals Reflection's Edge and Cabinet des Fées as well as in Harvard Book Store's anthology, "Michrochondria." She is pursuing a Master of Arts in publishing and writing at Emerson College.