Some 2-year colleges that offer a 4-year experience

When I asked high-school students, parents and school personnel what they thought of community colleges, a number of them didn’t think two-year schools provided the “full college experience,” which usually includes dorm life, sports, a full array of arts, and so forth.

Parent Diane Raff of Roseville has found out that’s not the case.

Her son wasn’t interested in a four-year college, she said, but the nearest metro-are college that offered what he was looking for was too far to commute to. And he wasn’t one to be all alone in an apartment off campus near some commuter college. He was looking for more: friends in the dorms, an opportunity to play in a band and hang out with other musicians, and a slew of activities to explore.

High school counselors apparently couldn’t help much, she said. So Raff started looking on the Web herself and asking friends what they knew, and slowly compiled a list of affordable two-year institutions — in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and Wisconsin — that offer on-campus housing and a full range of activities.

She and her son ended up visiting five before settling on the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton.

Now, she says:

While all his friends have been sweating (over applications) he’s like, ‘Yep, I know what I’m doing.”

Check out the list she made below. It’s all her work, including costs and notes. I’ve edited it for length, but kept her college blurbs about dorm life and activities:


Colleges with their own on-campus housing:

1) Itasca Community College, Grand Rapids

Tuition: $4,660

Room & Board : $4,560

Enrollment: 1,200

2) Vermilion Community College, Ely

“You can to live in the residence hall and not have to go outside during the winter months.”

Tuition: $5,200

Room & Board: $4,940

Enrollment: 800

Colleges with housing agreements with a nearby state university:

Northwest Technical College / Bemidji State University

“Northwest Technical College has a unique partnership with Bemidji State University, giving NTC learners access to campus life services and activities. You can live in the BSU dorms and access the meal plans, health services and recreational activities. BSU is only 10 minutes away.”

Tuition: $5,432

Room and board: $6,480

Enrollment: 1,000

Minnesota State Community & Technical College / MN State University Moorhead

Tuition: $5,172

Room & Board: $6,700

Enrollment: 2,000

St. Cloud Technical & Community College / St. Cloud State University

Tuition: $5,248

Room & Board: $6,300

Enrollment: 9,000


Many of Iowa’s 15 community colleges offer housing. Although most of Iowa’s colleges do not offer reciprocal tuition for Minnesota residents, their rates are still very reasonable.

Iowa Central Community College – Fort Dodge, IA

“Fully furnished apartment living is provided at Iowa Central with amenities including an adequate-sized kitchen with a range and refrigerator, a living room, a good-sized bath, and two bedrooms all in the midst of campus life. ICC also offers Band, Choir and theater.”

Tuition: $5,800

Room & Board; $5,075

Enrollment: 4,000

Ellsworth Community College, Iowa Falls, IA –

“Ellsworth offers more scholarships than is usual for a 2 year college. First-year students must live on campus. NJCAA athletics program includes men’s baseball, basketball, wrestling and golf.”

Tuition: $5,730

Room & Board: $4,900

Enrollment: 1,000

Iowa Western Community College, Council Bluffs, IA

“The NJCAA athletics program offers 7 sports for both men and women.  The college offers theater, dance, art and music. Housing options include traditional dorm and apartments/suites.”

Tuition: $4,500

Room & Board: $5,200 – $7,400

Enrollment: 5,000

North Dakota

In North Dakota, 4 year colleges are called universities.  Schools in the state system of two year/technical colleges are called state colleges. All of North Dakota’s state colleges offer housing.

North Dakota State College of Science – Wahpeton, ND

“For more than a century, NDSCS has maintained a unique blend of academic programs and campus life. Beyond the wide variety of career and technical education and liberal arts transfer programs, NDSCS has extensive facilities and organizations for a wide range of student activities. This blended atmosphere of instruction and extracurricular activities prepares the student for more than a specific field of study, providing lifelong learning and leadership experiences. Participation in student government, clubs, music, drama, intercollegiate and intramural athletics, professional and occupational organizations and campus social events can make NDSCS an exciting experience.

First year students must live on campus. NJCAA athletics program includes Men’s Baseball, Basketball and Football, Women’s Basketball, Softball and Volleyball.  Band, choir and theater group meet in the early evening so that students from all majors can participate.”

Tuition/Fees: $4,173

Room & Board: $5,076

Enrollment: 2,400

Lake Region State College

Tuition/Fees: $3,908

Room/Board: $5,750

Enrollment: 1,700

Dakota College at Bottineau

NJCAA athletics program includes men’s ice hockey, baseball, basketball and football, women’s basketball, softball and volleyball.

Tuition/Fees: $5,119

Room & Board: $4,612

Enrollment: 700 students

Bismarck State College – 4,000 students

Williston State College – 900 students      


Western Technical College, La Crosse

“NJCAA athletics include men’s basketball and baseball, women’s basketball and volleyball.  Housing is limited but up-to-date: 200 students live in the new suite style dorm.  Located near the UW La Crosse campus, WTC students have access to some of the UW-La Crosse facilities.”

Tuition: $4,087

Room & Board: $5,170

Enrollment: 4,000

Note: All information in this guide is based on prices and programs offered for the 2010-11 academic year.  Prices are based on an average student’s costs.  Your costs may be different than those listed. Contact the colleges you are interested in for complete and up-to-date information.