Should students approach the college process differently in this economy?

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Our counselors answered:

Should students approach the college process differently in this economy?

Scott White
Director of Guidance Montclair High School

Should students approach the college process differently in this economy?

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.

Kim Glenchur
Educational Consultant CollegesGPS

Why College?

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.

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours


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.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Tough Economic Times

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.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Loan Debt

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.

็Ž‹ๆ–‡ๅ› June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

more selective and more options

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.

Helen Cella

Should students approach the college process differently in this economy?

Yes they can't assume they will get the job upon graduation, they need to make themselves as marketable as possible.

Kathryn Lento

Hard work and good grades can pay off $$$$

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 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.

Christina Reynolds
Guidance Counselor

College Choices influenced by the economy

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.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Minimize Debt At All Costs

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.