What you should know and be aware of, too, is that a college debt, for both you and/or your parents, can be very burdensome in your life, affecting the way you live for many years. It is best, then, to get an affordable education, one you don’t have to pay for for the rest of your life.
Collegebasics wants to try to educate you to be money-smart as well as savvy about where you end up during your four college years. After all, part of those increased costs are not only incurred because colleges want you to have a better education. In fact, only about 10% of tuition increases are made in academics. Student services is a reason for another 19% of the increase, and facility operation accounts for an addition 20%. Maybe you’re willing to pay 10% more if it means a valuable degree, but are you willing to foot the other 29% on a school’s tuition increase?
So, think about the following:
Look for cost-effective schools.
• Schools that have year-round programs allow you to finish early and avoid extra tuition costs.
• Compare academic programs. Some have streamlined their requirements so you don’t have to pay for unnecessary credits.
• Schools that are not paying for Division I sports programs are not as expensive. Unless you’re an athlete, why pay the extra bucks?
• Look for colleges that have e-textbooks or print-on-demand texts. They are less expensive, and not as heavy, as the real thing.
Know what you’re paying for.
• Check out the job rate and earnings of graduates of a college before paying for the degree. The degree should be worth it. You can get information at Payscale.com
• Also more and more colleges are making information available about how well they educate you. Students are not always learning and acquiring skills. Academic information and comparisons can be found at sites like Collegeportratits.com.
Consider a foreign school.
• You may have to pay to travel and there are fewer scholarships available at foreign schools, but foreign schools often are cheaper. Think about the value in Canadian schools that demand less travel expense.
• Foreign schools’ admission requirements are also not as competitive. They are more interested in the first semester of your senior year than all four high school years as they take into consideration that some bloom later than others.
• You can find a list of foreign schools at topuniversities.com.
Think about switching schools.
Two years at a community college or a public school and then two years at a private school gives you the boutique degree without the cost of four full years. Many public and community colleges now have honors programs or admission pacts with private schools. Check out these programs at nchchonors.org. But, be prepared to study.
Weigh financial aid packages before you make a decision.
• You are best off with more than one acceptance in hand. Then you should check at the websites of each college that offers you an acceptance to calculate what you will actually pay.
• Not all financial aid packages are alike. The new college site calculators that are required as of 2011 have to tell you know what your estimated costs are after grants and scholarships. Those costs are the monies you don’t have to repay. Colleges may offer loan packages, but you have to pay those back with interest. You want to know what a college is really costing you.
• Once you find out what each college accepting you is offering, you can actually play one against another. Yes, you can dicker with financial aid offices.
Choosing a school is not just about getting the right acceptance or only about feeling you have the right campus fit and academic programming. A wise college student will also consider the cost of his/her education. It will make a huge difference in your future.