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Choosing the Right College

Today there is more financial assistance available than ever before: more federal aid, institutional incentives, and more scholarships. Even by taking advantage of all of these options many students still come up short. Unfortunately, students often find themselves strapped with a financial burden that can weigh up to $100 k before even reaching their twenty-first birthday—that’s a lot to look forward to upon graduation. So, what’s the solution? Educating yourself about the multitude of alternatives and options that can help you save money.

Being informed about the options available is the first step in saving on the cost of tuition. For many students college is simply about obtaining a diploma. For others, it’s about campus life, parties, and opportunities to get involved in sports. If you are looking to minimize the amount of student’s loans that you take out to fund your education, determine what sacrifices you are willing to make that will help you achieve this. This is not optional—to save money in school you will most likely have to give up some college luxuries in order to lighten your financial burden.

Consider These Questions

Why is college important to me?

As mentioned above, college means different things to different people. Is college important because it will help you get your dream job or is it important because you are the first in your family to attend? Answers to questions like these will help you determine what purpose college serves in your life. Simply put, the less attached you are to a particular institution the better because there are many options available for students who are willing to look outside the box.

Where do I see myself in 10 years?

If your ideal future is a career in construction or you want to be an aesthetician maybe there is no need to fork over $50 grand in tuition. Unless you are totally in it for the academic benefit, college for you may be inconsequential. If you plan on becoming a teacher, doctor or engineer, you likely realize that obtaining a diploma is an essential step in the direction of your goal. Another interesting consideration is that for more general degrees like English, education, communications, etcetera, the prestige of the college you attend is not nearly as important as it is for those pursuing specialized degrees in chemistry or medicine. This means that you might be able to save yourself from footing the bill for an unnecessarily name brand tuition.

What do I want my college experience to look like?

Some students are seeking and independent college career; one that provides flexible scheduling options and a workload that can be balanced with a part-time job. Other students, like fraternity boys, sorority girls, and football players want to be fully submerged in the college atmosphere. They intend to eat, sleep, and play on the college campus. For students looking for this experience it may be harder to minimize student loans as not every college caters to such a lifestyle, and typically those that do cushion their tuition to compensate. If you are of the independent student breed you will likely find that there are hundreds of options that help to make college more affordable.

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