Community colleges not only provide an accessible and inexpensive academic option, attending one of these public institutions is a popular choice—Federal data shows that nearly 40% of undergraduates attend community colleges before enrolling at a four-year school. Florida’s community college system registers hundreds of thousands of students each year.
In the following guide, we highlight ten of the best community colleges in Florida. We review ways to pay for college and spotlight several popular scholarships available to students at Florida community colleges.
Keep scrolling to learn more about the best community colleges in Florida, their academic programs, and the services they provide.
Best Community Colleges in Florida
Students have access to many excellent schools in Florida, but the best community colleges offer learners a wide variety of academic, financial, career, and student services. Additionally, the best community colleges in Florida hold regional accreditation—this institutional stamp of approval means the schools go through a rigorous, peer-review process to ensure students get their money’s worth. You can check out our ranking here.
Keep reading to see which Florida community colleges stand out.
With its main campus located in Tampa, Hillsborough Community College offers various associate degrees, continuing education, and professional certificate programs. Founded in 1968, HCC is home to affordable academic programs and serves more than 47,000 students each year. HCC holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). In addition to an expansive roster of associate degrees, HCC offers learners postsecondary adult vocational certificates (PSAV), advanced technical certificates (ATC), and applied technology diplomas (ATD).
Based in Gainesville, Santa Fe College is a sizable institution that transfers more students to the University of Florida than any other community college. SFC offers associate degrees in areas spanning from business administration to film studies. The school also offers technical certificates in areas like automotive service technology, carpentry apprenticeship, and chemical laboratory specialist.
Ranked as one of the best community colleges in the nation, Lake Sumter State College boasts a 19:1 student to instructor ratio and offers over $700,000 worth of foundation scholarships each year. LSSC offers various associate degree tracks, including criminal justice technology, health services management, and nursing. The school is also home to an expansive list of student services, including student employment, career services, tutoring, and a 24/7 help desk.
Established in 1947, Florida Gateway College serves thousands of students each year. Offering an expansive list of associate in science degrees, popular academic options cover areas like agribusiness management, environmental science technology, and registered nursing. In addition to on-campus options, FGC plays home to an equally sizable list of online degree options. FGC students have access to personal counseling services, community resources, and a grant program for first-generation college students.
Based in Madison, Florida, North Florida College offers a wide variety of online and on-campus degrees. In addition to traditional associate degree tracks, NFC also offers a 2+2 articulation track that provides students with a clear path towards enrollment at a four-year institution. Learners also have access to career and technical certificates in advanced manufacturing, commercial vehicle driving, and early childhood education. North Florida College holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Offering degree-seekers flexible attendance options through on-campus, online, and hybrid coursework, Miami Dade College serves over 50,000 students annually. MDC is home to 160 associate degree programs covering various disciplines from aviation administration to speech pathology. Like other community colleges in Florida, MDC also offers a relatively short list of bachelor’s degrees, including an RN-to-BSN completion program.
Based in Marianna, Florida, Chipola College is home to nine academic departments spanning from business and technology to workforce development. Chipola offers various associate degree programs, technical certificates, and continuing education tracks. Along with academic support, Chipola’s student services include counseling, emergency assistance, family resources, and legal services. Chipola holds regional accreditation from the SACSCOC.
Based in Brevard County, Eastern Florida State College has campuses in Cocoa, Melbourne, Palm Bay, and Titusville. Founded in 1960, EFSC serves around 25,000 students annually. In addition to associate degrees spanning from accounting to veterinary nursing, EFSC offers advanced technical certificates in cardiac sonography, network security forensics, and veterinary practice management. Additionally, students have access to online and hybrid academic programming.
Located in Orlando, Valencia College was founded in 1967 and serves over 60,000 students every year. Offering more than 60 associate degrees, graduates take advantage of Valencia’s pipeline to various four-year state colleges in Florida. Valencia is also home to an accelerated skills training program and includes specialized areas like advanced manufacturing, health care, and construction and maintenance.
With a gorgeous home base on Stock Island, The College of the Florida Keys is a public community college that serves over 1,000 learners annually. Established in 1965, this public institution offers various associate degrees, career training programs, and technical certificates. Owing to its location within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, it’s no surprise that the school offers specialized degrees in marine science and marine engineering. Other academic areas include culinary management, nursing, and general studies.
Universities.com takes an objective approach when ranking schools. Utilizing our college ranking algorithm and various metrics and data sets, we pay special attention to graduation rates, financial resources, and admissions statistics. You can take a closer look at our full ranking methodology here.
How Do I Pay For Community College?
While community colleges offer college-level courses at a reasonable price, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an investment. That said, students have access to a wide variety of financial aid options. Scholarships, loans, and work-study programs all help offset the cost of an education. Additionally, online programs allow students to complete academic requirements while continuing to work. We’ve highlighted several Florida-based scholarships below.
Scholarships for Community College Students
Offered through the state of Florida, this program offers first-generation college students financial support that’s renewable for each academic term. Applicants must be first-generation college students and demonstrate financial need.
This scholarship program provides financial assistance to roughly 50 students each year. Applicants must enroll full-time at a Florida postsecondary institution and demonstrate financial need.
Florida A&M University offers a merit scholarship for students graduating from a state community college. Recipients can receive funding for a maximum of four consecutive semesters. To renew, students must maintain a 3.3 GPA.
Is Going to Community College Worth It?
Founded to expand access to higher education, community colleges offer an affordable education that often acts as a gateway to four-year institutions. For many students, completing general education requirements at a community college is a practical way to significantly offset the college cost. Additionally, community colleges are home to extensive continuing education and technical training programs.
Whether you’re planning on transferring to a four-year college or gaining technical certification, attending a community college can enhance academic and career options at a reasonable price.