Justice is never free. Whether you’re a legal secretary working with lawyers to seek justice for clients or you’re a police officer pursuing justice for victims and criminals, there is always a price to pay. And before you can even enter the field of justice, you’ll have to pay for a criminal justice degree. The question is, how much?
Choose Your Criminal Justice Degree
First, you need to decide whether you’ll be enrolling in an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree program, as criminal justice degree costs will vary according to your choice. For some criminal justice occupations, like paralegal, an associate degree will get you in the door. For others, like FBI agent, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree for entry.
If you’re pursuing a four-year degree, you can still cut your criminal justice degree costs by starting at a community college. That way, you’ll benefit from less expensive tuition for your first two years before you transfer credits to a four-year university. Criminal justice tuition at a community college is about one-third of in-state tuition at public universities.
How Much Does a Criminal Justice Degree Tuition Cost?
If you choose to get your criminal justice degree at a community college, you’ll pay about $80 per credit. Compare that to private school tuition, which runs about $900 per credit. You’ll need about 60 credits to complete an associate degree and 120 credits to complete a bachelor’s degree.
At $80 per community college credit, a criminal justice degree costs about $2,500 each year. Public, four-year colleges cost $7,000 for in-state students and $19,000 for out-of-state students. As you can see, attending public school close to home can save you a good $12,000. Private colleges are the most expensive option, averaging about $26,000 per year.
Hidden Criminal Justice Degree Costs
When you’re applying to criminal justice school, find out what tuition includes. Most universities do not include such costs as room and board, which runs about $8,000 per year at public schools and $9,000 at private schools. (Of course, if you don’t live on campus, you can find significant savings on room and board.) Add in about $1,000 for textbooks, $1,000 for transportation, and $1,800 for personal expenses, and you could be paying around $12,000 on top of annual criminal justice tuition costs.
Criminal Justice Financial Aid
The good news — when you enroll in an accredited degree program, you may be eligible for financial aid for criminal justice. Just make sure your school is accredited by a regional or national agency that’s approved by the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Then, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before the deadline and you’ll receive a rundown of all the federal loans, grants, and scholarships for which you may qualify.
There’s always a price to pay for justice. But when your education program enables you to pursue justice for all, you’ll probably find that criminal justice tuition costs are completely worthwhile.