This is seventh post in the College Abacus “Financial Aid & Fiction” series. Previous posts have featured characters from Glee, Modern Family, Akeelah and the Bee, Spanglish, The Namesake and Twilight.
NBC’s Community features a group of students that head off to community college for a variety of reasons. Season 4’s new couple Britta and Troy are just beginning their college education. Britta enrolled after a globe-trotting life that left her, as describes it “almost 30 and broke” while Troy chose to forgo a scholarship to play football because he couldn’t handle the idea of continuing his football career, leading us to believe both characters were looking for an affordable college choice. Here at College Abacus, we couldn’t help but wonder, would community college really be the most cost-effective option for Britta and Troy?
Community is set at the fictional Greendale Community College in Colorado. Many of the characters are described as being from Denver and living close to Greendale, so we decided to compare two community colleges in the wider Denver area with the University of Colorado-Denver. (Scroll down to see the numbers we used for Britta and Troy’s financial situations).
College Abacus proves that Britta and Troy would be charged different prices to attend the same community colleges.
Perhaps more importantly, this comparison demonstrates that each student would pay only a bit more tuition to attend the University of Colorado-Denver - a nearby four-year school.
The Community College of Denver would offer both characters the least expensive option, but Troy would pay $14,654 to attend while Britta would pay $11,932 – a difference of $2,722. If they decided to attend the community college in nearby Aurora instead, Troy would be paying at least $3,000 more in annual tuition than Britta! The University of Colorado-Denver, meanwhile, would be close in price to the community colleges, while also offering Troy and Britta the opportunity to attend a four-year institution.
We know that Britta ran away from home and high school to join the Peace Corps and eventually become an activist, so we assumed she was living on her own when she applied to Greendale and had a household income of less than $30,000. We know Troy is an only child who was living with his father when he applied to college as it’s revealed at the end of Season One that Troy’s father kicked Troy out of his house to make room for his new girlfriend. We therefore assumed that Troy applied to college with his father’s financial support but would not have planned to continue living with him while in school. We used the median household income of Denver County from the most recent census ($47,499) for Troy’s father income, and gave both Britta and Troy the same Denver area zip code (80202). Birthdays for both characters are listed on the Community wiki and several episodes of the show establish Britta as 29 when the show premiered in 2009 and Troy as 20.
Are you considering community college or a four-year school? Check out College Abacus and find out how much it will really cost.