A Good Deal Goes Beyond the Numbers

College websites should for the most part, address any questions you may have about the school. If not, try another popular and useful site: Facebook. Although the campus may be on the other side of the country, this popular social networking site allows students to query or join helpful groups. Here are a few more subjects to factor in to determine if your child’s prospective school is a sound financial investment and will offer them the best collegiate experience.

ADVERTISEMENT

Curriculum

Declaring a major typically does not need to be completed until the latter part of sophomore year or beginning of junior year. It doesn’t hurt to have some idea of prospective majors- this will drastically affect what schools they apply to.

If your child has always wanted to be an engineer but two of the schools on their wish list don’t offer that major, remove those from the list. This will avoid throwing money on a future college transfers?

When your child has established an idea for their intended coursework, check out the college’s school for that particular subject; it will house many majors in the case they decide to pursue another avenue; there will be ample areas to pursue with their credits.

For the students who are strongly undecided in their field of study, a large state school should be considered, as there are many major options.

Faculty

You want your child to learn as much as possible during their time in college and as such, they should be educated by the top professionals in the field. Hone in on, and have them get connected with the most professional, prestigious educators for the best tips.

A quick online search should yield sufficient information such as: alma mater, degrees offered, majors/disciplines, classes and faculty information.

Classes at the general education level are excellent for this because they are geared toward first-year students that may or may not be extremely familiar with the subject matter. If your background is in accounting, you may register for a course outside your undergraduate curriculum. If the professor prompts strong interest in the subject, your child will enjoy learning to its fullest degree, which is the best investment made. However, if the professor solely reads PowerPoint slides in a monotone voice, your child may elect to skip the class in favor of a nap, which wastes precious funds.

To be clear, the methods of one professor won’t reflect that of all educators on the campus so survey a few classes or log on to sites rating professor performance to ensure your investments are worthwhile.

Housing

Though there are stereotypical ideas as to how glorious dorms should be, the general college dormitory will not be as extravagant with on-campus housing. It will consist of sharing 11’-by-14’ room with at least one roommate and a bathroom with residents from their entire floor.

Some schools offer freshman-only housing replete with first year experience programs but will cost more than the average dormitory. There are different debates as to whether or not these extra fees are worth it but realistically, most freshmen will not have their optimal choice in housing and will end up in a common dorm and gain the same experience, at a lesser cost.

As the years pass, your child will have access to other housing options such as suites or on-campus apartments. Living there will be more expensive, but off-campus housing is far less expensive. Make sure the neighborhood is safe and the building is structurally sound with a legitimate lease if you’ll be the one paying the rent.

Of course, if the university is close to your home, offer commuting as an option. It will save you the thousands of dollars that would have gone toward room and board – money you could put toward next semester’s tuition or use to help your child purchase a reliable vehicle to get them to and from campus. Of course, you may have to work out some new rules or compromise on some old ones once your child starts displaying their independence.

Cuisine

Perhaps not as healthy or homey as the traditional home-cooked meals, dining hall meals will likely be the main source of nourishment for first and second year students. How does one determine the right meal plan or funds for food?

We’ve all heard of, maybe experienced, the Freshman 15 but if not, it’s the weight a college freshman gains during their first year brought on by easy-access and relatively unhealthy food. When parents aren’t there to restrict or prepare meals, extra calories add up quickly. Many schools are aware of this trend and have done their best to alleviate the problem by offering healthier cuisine choices – a relief to waistlines.

If the dining halls at your child’s preferred college seem to have their menus in order, paying for a meal plan is a no-brainer but choose wisely: The unlimited plan is appealing because you know your child will never be without nourishment but students often skip meals if they are running late or have a class during mealtimes. To save without starving, consider the second or third dining plan options, which are less expensive but still offer plenty of access.

If meal choices at the college are less diverse, consider giving your child a stipend for off-campus dining at the beginning of the semester; this will force them to adhere to a budget and make informed dining choices while on campus and ration the stipend until they come home for break. This is a great way to practice money management.

ADVERTISEMENT

Latest College & Financial Aid News

Book Shines Light on Navigating College Costs

March 4, 2021

by Izzy Hall

March is the first month students may hear back from colleges they applied to during regular admission. Whether an acceptance letter comes in the mail or through an online portal, the excitement of being accepted into college is tangible. What may be less tangible is understanding how you and your family will pay for college. A new best-selling book aims to help untangle the process. [...]

More Schools Adopting Test-Optional Merit Aid

March 2, 2021

by Izzy Hall

Back in September, a few colleges who had already adopted a test-optional policy for the current admissions cycle announced that they would be awarding merit scholarships without the need for applicants to submit test scores. Since then, more and more colleges and universities have quietly adopted test-optional merit aid policies to complement their currently test-optional admissions. [...]

Avoid Student Debt at Colleges with No Student Loans

February 25, 2021

by Izzy Hall

Here at Scholarships.com, we connect students with scholarships that can help alleviate the amount of student loans they need to take out to pay for college. But there are colleges out there that offer students such generous financial aid packages that they need to take out very little in loans if at all. These “no student loans” colleges replace student loans in financial aid packages with additional scholarships and grants to help fund a student’s tuition. Students accepted into these schools will pay much less than the cost of tuition and thus will not be as burdened with student debt. [...]

Last Reviewed: March 2021