Community colleges are where many students take their first step towards a bachelor’s degree. But according to a report by the New York Public Interest Research Group, the cost of tuition at community colleges has gone up dramatically, and could be prohibitive.

"In some cases, tuition exceeds the maximum award that you can get under financial aid with the state’s tuition assistance program," Blair Horner, NYPIRG’s executive director told Capital Tonight.

"We’ve also determined that the state provides about half of the tuition that the students have been paying. And when we looked a little deeper, it’s clear that the state has been hemorrhaging the number of students who go to community colleges," Horner said.

Some community colleges have lost more than 50% of enrolled students compared to 10 years ago. Horner described it as "a financial death spiral."

The NYPIRG report offers several recommendations, including urging lawmakers to ensure that there is a financial floor for state aid when it comes to covering the costs of community colleges.