You and Your College Fund
Are you in the process of deciding where to go to school? The cost of tuition is
often the factor that determines where a student will go to school. The difference
in tuition typically depends on what type of school you choose to attend. If your
major is offered by most schools, keep an open mind when considering your options.
The bottom line: don't rule out a cheaper option because it is so. Cheaper can mean
"worse", but is doesn't have to.
The most fiscally conservative approach to attending school is by a long shot, the
community college route. Most only offer 2-year degrees; however, they are a great
place to complete your general education requirements. In my own experience, I have
found that general 100-level courses are just about the same regardless of where
you attend. If finances are a major concern, consider the community college option.
A state university may not be your first choice, but they offer students an opportunity
to obtain a prorated first-class education, and a diploma upon completion. State
schools are typically less expensive than a private college, but it is significantly
harder to receive a scholarship for a state school as most of the scholarships available
only apply to students with financial need.
Private institutions almost always cost more, but for students who excel in academics or athletics they offer impressive scholarship incentives. Half or full tuition
scholarships are not unusual; students who attend these universities typically receive
an offer that they simply cannot refuse.
Discuss payment options with your parents
It's decided. You are going to college, come heck or high water. But who's paying
for it? Many students assume that their parents are willing to foot the bill for
their tuition and are shocked and appalled when they find out that their sneaky
folks have plans of their own. Plans, that—gasp—don't include paying for your education.
If this is the case, it is better to know sooner that later so that you can investigate
your financial aid options.
Estimate how much you can contribute on your own
Did you know that in just one summer, most students can make enough money to pay
the tuition for one semester at a community college? If your parents can't help
you, and financial aid incentives aren't enough, think about how much of your own
earnings you can contribute.
This is one option that I wish I had taken advantage of when I was attending school.
There are billions of dollars at your finger tips. Take advantage of the generosity
that various organizations advance in the form of scholarship rewards. A dedicated
scholarship searcher can potentially earn thousands of dollars.
Apply for aid
Regardless of who is paying for college, submit your Free Application For Student
Aid (FAFSA) Form. Your individual financial circumstance will be evaluated and it
will determine how much Federal Student Aid you qualify for. If you receive a financial
aid package, it will typically be composed of various grants and loans.
Comparing your options
Before registering at a school, wait until you have several offers on the table
that you can compare. If you applied to a state, community, and private college,
make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of each. Consider these factors
when assessing the financial assistance that each will offer you.