Community College Terminology

Before the 1970s, community colleges were more commonly referred to as junior colleges, and that term is still used at some institutions. However, the term "junior college" has evolved to describe private two-year institutions, whereas the term "community college" has evolved to describe publicly-funded two-year institutions. As such, the main governance body of community colleges changed its name in 1992 from the "American Association of Junior Colleges" to the "American Association of Community Colleges".

In New Jersey, slightly more than half of the state's nineteen community colleges are called county colleges, not merely in name but also in descriptive speech. This is because there is one community college, often with satellite branches, dedicated to each county of the state. The term is also used by some community colleges in Texas (where community colleges are funded by county residents via property taxes assessed by a special "community college district"), Michigan and Illinois. The City University of New York is a well known municipally-funded community college system, although the system includes both junior and senior (4-year) colleges, in addition to graduate programs.

City Colleges
In several California cities (including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Sacramento), and in other large cities, New York City, and Chicago, community colleges are often called "city colleges," since they were municipally-funded and designed to serve the needs of the residents of the city in which they are situated. The Los Angeles Community College District is the largest community college system in the United States. The Maricopa Community College District in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area, is the largest community college district in the United States in terms of enrollment.