Should students approach the college process differently in this economy?
as well as schools that offer merit scholarships, need-blind schools if they think they will have a need for substantial financial aid.
Some schools offer guaranteed academic scholarships based on GPA, SAT or ACT scores. National Merit Scholarship winners may also qualify for more money in their aid package.
There are tuition discounting programs in many states that offer tuition discounts to students who live in certain states and wish to attend college in states that participate in the programs. In California and several other western states, students can check out: http://wiche.edu/wue which offers 150% of tuition in dozens of out of state public schools!
These programs exist all over the country. It’s worth considering when researching affordable colleges, especially in tough economic times.
Some private colleges offer locked in tuition rates that are guaranteed not to go up for four years, others offer a guarantee of 4 year graduation, based on meeting certain requirements.
Students should also consider the benefits of using AP credits as a way of saving on college tuition, and even taking/waiving out of classes via the CLEP tests through the College Board.
Community colleges can also be an affordable solution for families who wish to use the transfer option. It’s important to make sure that the student is following the prescribed curriculum for transferring in a timely manner. In Calfornia, one useful website to help students stay on track for transferring is: http://www.assist.org/web-assist/welcome.html
Equating education with the American Dream, President Barack Obama called for immediate education reform in his speech on Tuesday, March 10th, at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Obama’s education funding plan sets aside billions of dollars in financial aid for college students in the form of grants, on campus work-study and an increase in tax credit.
The recession has impacted all facets of society and the education system is no exception. However, Obama appears undaunted in the face of a looming crisis in education. At a time when colleges have put a freeze on hiring professors, Obama called for performance-driven increases in teacher salaries. While many colleges and universities have stopped construction and renovation projects and capped enrollment, Obama plans to ensure that more students complete college and technical training. As schools lay-off teachers and cut programs from the curriculum, the President intends to increase the number of educated future adults in the country.
Obama asserted that the fate of the country depends on educating the youth and future leaders who will usher the nation into a more stable economic environment. However, many prospective students could find that even if they gain acceptance to college, financial challenges may prohibit them from attending. Obama’s stimulus plan may infuse money into the education system, but the reform is occurring simultaneously with increases in college tuition and decreases in financial aid packages. Even the wealthiest colleges have suffered. Endowments have tanked and people who once could afford to donate consistently to their college or university of choice have tightened the financial reigns.
Obama’s lofty plan offers hope, but let’s wait to hear from this fall’s college freshmen. They very well may find that the cutbacks and lay-offs have caused the schools to morph into versions of what they were even one year ago. Perhaps their feedback will provide the best success indicator for Obama’s education reform plan.
The lesson of today’s employment landscape is that a college degree, even from a prestigious institution, is not a guarantee for life success. Without a strategy for progressing towards a desired post-graduation outcome, students in their junior year may find themselves seeking majors that will simply enable them to graduate within two years time. Before diving into methods of financing college, it is more important to take a hard look at what one wants to do in and after college.
Only if there are economic factors, such as how much your parents can afford. Also, if you are not a student who is likely headed to graduate school, you should get career training as an undergraduate.
Not really. The economy will change during your lifetime, but the immediate economy will is about your own financial reality – that will dictate what you can afford to spend on college, as it always has. The future will be what you build, and you should build on your talents and interests – knowing that developing them will take you into your future, whatever its economy.
Recessions aside, students need to be aware of how an increasingly competitive global economy will impact the value of their undergraduate degrees. A steadily rising number of professional fields now require a graduate credential for entry, so undergraduate applicants need to plan accordingly. If you aspire to a career in law, medicine or education, for example, your job prospects will depend, in large part, on your graduate experiences and degree. Therefore, choose an undergraduate college that suits your credentials/interests, but also one that does not require you to incur large amounts of debt. Nothing is more damaging to career choice/flexibility than a large monthly loan payment. So, take the long view–treat college not as an end, but as a means to something greater. If you can do so, you’re likely to end up at a college that provides you with the skills, credentials and financial freedom to “dive” into whatever career path you choose.
In the present economy, prospective students should understand agony of indebtedness with better clarity than previous generations. Minimizing student debt should be a priority for every student’s search. Here are some key factors to help establish a financially fit college search:
1. Seek schools with a high percentage of four-year graduates.
2. Examine statistics related to student expense such as: average student indebtedness post-graduation, percentage of students receiving merit aid, and average award.
3. Prepare to pay. Get a job and plan to contribute at least $2000 annually to your college education.
4. Pay attention to price. Even though few pay sticker price in higher education, starting off with a significantly lower price can certainly influence the final cost.
5. Collect credits elsewhere. Use the summer to take a couple of classes at a local community college that will transfer back to your more expensive home institution. Maximize your opportunity for credit through high-school based for credit programs such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate.
Absolutely!! Unless money is no object, the price of your education has to be a major factor in your college search. In today’s economy, with jobs hard to find, you don’t want to be burdened with huge debt because you took out very large loans. Once your college acceptances are in, take the time to carefully review the financial aid package that each school offers to you. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges. For example, a financial aid package of $20,000 made up of 90% scholarships and 10% loans is far different than a financial aid package of $20,000 made up of 10% scholarships and 90% loans! Scholarships are free money–you do not pay back the money. Loans must be paid back, with interest, and pay-back usually begins immediately after you graduate. So be a savvy student in this economy!
Regardless of the current state of the economy, students should pursue college educations in order to strengthen their position in the job market.
However, in times of a struggling economy, students are right to be concerned about the kinds of colleges they attend, the tuition bills that will result, and the majors that they study. Wondering which majors result in the most jobs and the highest salaries?
For a look at a very large study conducted by Georgetown University that tracked college majors, their rates of unemployment, and salaries, please see the Wall Street Journal here: http://graphicsweb.wsj.com/documents/NILF1111/#term=
Due to the current economic climate many students and their families may need to have a serious discussion about the amount of money the parents are willing to contribute towards their child’s education and how that compares to the colleges their child may be looking to apply to. Parents should communicate with their children about this ahead of time so that their child understands if they need to target specific types of schools (ie. community college, state schools, honors program which offer scholarships). The student should also understand that if they take out school loans they will leave college with a debt to pay and it may be difficult for them to find a job right out of college.
More than ever before schools are giving merit scholarships based on academic achievement and standardized test scores without demonstrated financial need. Don’t assume you have to be at the very top of your class to qualify. Colleges have a variety of awards with varying degrees of selectivity. This is good news for families who do not qualify for federal aid but struggle to find the money for college. There are two ways to find these scholarships.
1. Search the college website for merit scholarships or call their office of financial aid.
2. Use search engines like meritaid.com to identify schools that give merit money.
Don’t rule out expensive private schools. Some have very generous merit packages which could make the total tuition less than a state school. ***Caution*** make sure the merit award is renewable for 4 years and not exclusively for the first year.
Every student needs to approach college according to their own unique circumstances. In any economy, I would recommend a conservative approach to taking on large amounts of debt. I would want to look at the finances of the college as well. Are they cutting back and offering fewer classes with more students in them?
Yes they can’t assume they will get the job upon graduation, they need to make themselves as marketable as possible.
Students should make a plan of how they will get from high school graduation to their dream job. If the family is struggling financially, the student should look at attending an community college (as a start). The community college usually costs less and still offers a quality education.Once the student has taken the bulk of the prerequiste classes, then transfer to the four year college of their choice.
All the schools on your final list should be options where you would be happy to attend college. Financing post-secondary studies (and most probably paying for some of it after you graduate) will affect your satisfaction with your studies as well. When a student creates his or her college list, I always recommend including a couple of financial safeties. By all means you should apply to your dream school, but don’t forget to be pragmatic as well.
students should consider financial aid planning two years ahead of the application deadline. parents must prepare two to three year tax return to qualify for needs based financial aid.
all students should apply for financial aid.
expand your school selection process by focusing on the best fit plus the best aid.
It is prudent for students to be fiscally responsible when they are considering college. Some questions to consider: Will my future career options really be any different if I go to Low Cost U, versus High Cost U? Will my job upon graduation allow me to pay back any loans and still enjoy a comfortable lifestyle? How can I reduce the cost of college: qualify for scholarships (that high school transcript does matter), work on campus (studies show a busy student is a more productive and organized student), take the maximum number of credits each year (you may be able to graduate a semester early). There is a fine line between doing what you love and doing what will support you. Hopefully you will find that balance between career and salary.
The recent economic woes have brought attention to the massive student debt that many students are accumulating. Families need to have open discussions before students begin to create a strategic list of schools. Financial fit is just as important as academic and social fit. Get creative and use you AP scores at a state school that will accept them verses a private college that will not honor them. Attend year round school. Use your community college as a credit platform to a four year degree.
Many students and their parents are stressing career preparation and job placement as priorities in the college process due to the current economy. But take a hint from Daniel Pink, author of “A Whole New Mind” in which he stresses that any skill that can be automated, or condensed into an equation, will be soon done in Asia or India for pennies on the dollar. So, while job security is a concern in this economy, do not forget that learning how to think and process information is the goal of a liberal arts education, so don’t rule out the (often small) liberal arts colleges that may not offer coops, but will certainly develop and hone the valuable and transferable skill sets of critical thinking.
Yes, you need to have a t least one financial safety!
Not necessarily. Obviously the economy has had an impact on the financial side of the equation—both families’ ability to pay for college and the ability of schools to provide financial aid–and yet the fundamental purpose and functions of a college education have not changed. Consequently, while you may well need to add an additional, financially based layer, to your considerations, an education is still an education and so the fundamental things that you would have considered–be they size, geography, program, major, etc.–all remain equally relevant and central to your considerations.
Tuition is up, employment is down, and interest rates are high. Rather than set yourself up for disappointment and be forced to turn down acceptances, it makes sense to be practical early on about what your family can realistically afford and do an honest assessment of how much debt you’re willing to take on.
Even if it’s highly likely you’ll receive merit aid, consider whether you’d be willing and able to cover the entire cost of attendance without it. Figure out how much loan aid you’d need to attend, then use a student loan repayment calculator to determine what your future monthly payment will be on that amount. Then, consider how likely it is that you’ll be able to find (within six months of graduation) a job that will enable you to make that payment.
College is a time to learn about oneself and the world, make friends, and explore the world. It’s also just one phase in a lifetime of learning. It’s a huge investment. You want to be happy and have fun, but it also pays to be practical.
In this ecomony, I require all of my students to apply to one in state college. If all else fails and the students does not have the financial aid packages they were hoping for, they have a state school to fall back on. I call this “the financial safety.”
This is a great question, and if you ask different counselors you will probably get different answers. I believe students should still pursue the colleges of their choice since there is a chance they might qualify for financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, and work study.
I caution students to be conscious of tuition and fees and make sure they choose an institution of higher education (IHE) that will meet there needs. Tuition and fees are often deciding factors. Most state and public institutions will usually have lower tuition and fees compared to their private counterparts.
After my sister graduated from high school she attended a community college. When it was time to transfer she had to make a decision as to what school she would attend to work towards becoming a teacher.
Option A was a private school that cost about 20,000 a year. She would be receiving financial aid in the form of a $3,000 for grants and over $18,000 in student loans.
Option B was a public state school and tuition was about 3,000 per year. She would receive about a $1,000 grant and about $5,000 for student loans.
I mentioned to her to look over the schools, and make the best decision. In the end she choose to attend the school that allowed her to complete her educational goals while keeping her student loan debt low. That was option B. I always encourage students to think about the amount of student loan debt they will incur while attending college.
I have some friends who have attended private schools for all four-years in order to become K-12 teacher and end up with $80,000 worth of student loan debt. On a teachers salary that will be very difficult to repay. Consider the tuition and fees, consider the career, and consider what you will be comfortable repaying if you have too.
I have many students that turn their nose up at two year colleges. Often times they suggest that going to a two year college is beneath their abilities. They want to be recognized for gaining admission into a competitive university, despite whether their family can afford that university or not. Students and parents will willingly go into debilitating debt, just to garnish a well-known school’s designer name tag. However, in today’s economic climate, this type of thinking can be disastrous. Making the decision to transfer into a competitive school doesn’t make you less of a student; actually it makes you a fiscally responsible one.
Remember, if the goal is to get a 4 year degree from a prestigious university, this can often still be accomplished, even if a student starts out at a 2 year college. Transferring can save a family thousands of dollars. As a result, it’s time to reconsider this money saving option. If anyone judging you has something to say about it, tell them to pay the bill.
Perhaps in today’s economy and your desire to get started in your career soon after you graduate in your field, you should consider a school with strong career services to aggressively assist you in your job search. Your school should have a number of employer relationships in the industry you’re hoping to launch your career. Also, your university and program should have a good reputation in your area.
Furthermore, programs that offer internships or field study courses can be beneficial. Perhaps even consider the opportunity to study abroad especially in one of the emerging economies (e.g., India, China, Russia or Brazil) to help you to differentiate yourself from your peers.
Also, a university with an excellent alumni network and your ability to access and use it effectively will be helpful in your job search.
But at the end of the day you still should have the soft skills (e.g., communication and interpersonal skills, positive attitude, creativity and analytical skills, etc.) that employers are looking for and value.
A few more factors to put on your wish list!
While this is a very broad question, the quick answer for most students is yes. Financial Aid is the first area of concern. With higher unemployment and fewer job prospects on the horizon for graduates, prospective college students need to be very cautious about the level of debt (loan) that they take on in order to earn a bachelors degree. Fewer job opportunities and lower salaries will make it more difficult for students to pay off college loans within a few years of graduation. Lingering indebtedness after graduation could pose an obstacle to attending graduate school (and taking on more loans) and having greater flexible in job choices.
In terms of paying for college, students should consider home state universities and colleges. Moreover, attending a community college for two years before transferring to a four year institution would be a cost savings. Finally, consider schools with generous merit (non-need) awards which could defray tuition costs.
The economy might also influence major choices. Graduating with a degree in a specific field may make a graduate more employable. Degrees related to fields like engineering, nursing, physical therapy, medicine in general, teaching, environmental sciences, green technology/environmental architecture, etc. might put a graduate in a more favorable position in terms of employment.
It depends on that students finances.
Absolutely. You must be a good consumer of this product you are buying called education and determine the financial implication of your purchase before you sign on the dotted line. If you are going to be a teacher for example, go online and see what the starting salary is in a district close to you and realize this is the most money you should have to end up with on student loans when you graduate. If you can’t fit the school of your choice then rethink and find better financial choices.
Try work books such Lynn O’Shaughnessy’s Shrinking the Cost of College for more financial ideas.
Yes. The financial aid process should be approached with the help of an expert or someone how has vast experience – someone who has credentials similar to mine.
Yes. The financial aid process should be approached with the help of an expert or someone who has vast experience – someone who has credentials similar to mine.
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