Post-secondary education is a big investment of time, money, and effort, so choose your school wisely. Choosing a school is one of the most important decision you will make in high school. Paying for school comes closely after. The U.S. Department of Education offers a variety of student financial aid programs to help students pay for school.
It's up to you to look at schools. Just because a school participates in the federal student financial aid programs does not mean the DOE has endorsed their quality of education. The Department of Education does not approve a school's curricula, policies, or administrative practices.
Basic questions to ask are:
Most of this information is in a school's catalog or introductory brochure so grab a few brochures during a campus visit. Also, the reference section of your local library has many books with the same information.
You can also find information on the Internet. If you know someone who attends or attended a school you're considering, ask that person their opinion of the school.
Ask about the school's accreditation, licensing, student loan default rate, and campus security.
Find out the school's job placement rate (the percentage of students who are placed in jobs related to their field of study).
Find out about the school's refund policy.
Find out about financial aid availability at the school.
You have the right to receive the following information from the school:
Find out about the school's return-of-aid policy.
Find out the school's completion and transfer-out rates.
Get a copy of the school's "equity-in-athletics" report.
Compare your anticipated debt to your expected income post-graduation. If you borrow money to pay for all or a portion of your education, you'll need enough money to repay your debt. Check the web or visit the library to learn more about the starting salary for careers you are interested in. The U.S. Department of Labor publishes the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and the Occupational Outlook Handbook which also have information.
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