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      Tuition hikes are making students rethink college choices

      Students like Stephanie are choosing to go to community colleges first rather than attend state schools for all four years.

      The University of Illinois recently announced there will be a 1.7 percent tuition increase in the 2014-2015 school year.

      The increase will affect first year students.

      The school announced the increase matches the current inflation rates for consumer goods and services.

      Stephanie Dearwester, a first-year student at John Wood Community College, says, when it comes to picking a college, you want to pick the best quality education for the best price, so that is why I decided to come here."

      Students like Stephanie are choosing to go to community colleges first rather than attend state schools for all four years.

      The reason why ... the cost.

      "By attending John Wood first I am going to save about $30,000 especially with the scholarships I got here that was huge factor in deciding to come here first." Dearwester said.

      Another student says those tuition hikes make it easier to choose schools like John Wood.

      "John Wood, just kind of because it was the cheaper alternative and I actually got half a tuition waiver so that automatically took half of tuition." Martin Nall, another first-year student, said.

      Nall also says others factors played a role on why he started small and will then go big.

      "So I've also looked at the degree program and knowing that Western is the best for my degree program, so I kind of did, strategically looked at it two different ways, was the cheapest and where I can get the most for my money," Nall said.

      Feedback from those big schools says, Stephanie and Martin will be just fine in more ways than one.

      "GPAs after they have been there for a year, there GPAs are equal to or better than those native students that started at those particular institutions, so bottom line is that there isn't a penalty for starting at a community college." Dr. John Letts, president of John Wood Community College, said.

      In fact, it could be called a plus.

      They both say they are saving a lot of money and are happy with their decision for starting at a community college.