Affording University – Cost & Funding

For a baby shower in the year 2012 instead of letting everyone know you are registered at Babies-R-Us it might be a better idea to start taking in donations for your child’s college fund. As a matter of fact, it might be in your best interest to make sure before you say “I Do” that your spouse is gifted in one way or another whether that is musically, artistically, or athletically in order to better the chances of your kid getting a full ride scholarship.

According to the US Department of Education National Center for Statistics from 2001- 2011 the average cost to attend college rose 42 percent for your undergraduate degree and looks like it will continue to climb in the years to come. Despite these numbers, there are a number of things you can do in order to find funding for your schooling as well as keeping cost to a minimum.

The average cost of a moderate in state public university for the 2011-2012 school year was $21,447.  For a private institution, the average cost per student last year was $42,224 (Collegedata.com). These figures often times double when students decide to go away from home for college as out of state fees come into play. As a parent or student, brainstorming ways to come up with the funds to pay for these fees can be more than stressful.

The most common way to pay for college is financial aid and student loans. I am sure many of us have had teachers and professors making jokes about how they are to this day still paying off college loans, but the reality is this is many American’s dilemma. While student loans seem like a good idea at the time, come graduation the letters begin to flood your mailbox without hesitation welcoming young adults into the world of bills and collections.

As a high school student preparing for your next milestone in life there are many things to take into consideration. Do all of your research to better prepare you for the hole that is inevitably going to burn through your pocket book. There are plenty of ways to offset some of the costs of college in today’s society. The most popular would be to make sure to apply for financial aid. Often times however, middle class Americans my not receive financial aid due to the fact that their parents may make too much money as was in my case.

Though we were far from rich, my mother even as a single parent made too much money and I was denied financial aid. If this happens to you do not worry. There are other forms of aid in scholarships that are out there for your taking. The internet is one of your best allies in the fight against college tuition. Websites such as Scholarships.com make finding “free money” that much easier. There is a misconception that in order to win a scholarship you have to be the best athlete, or a baby Einstein. That is not always the case. There are many scholarships out for example young African Americans with decent grade point averages. All you have to do is do your homework and search the web for scholarships that you fit.

Another key factor to consider when planning for your college future is to take into consideration what major you wish to pursue. At many institutions, the cost of your tuition rises when you choose a course of study that requires more time than average. Some of the more expensive majors include fine arts, engineering, sciences, law, and medical.

It is common for students to change their decision on which major to commit to throughout their college career, but as a word of precaution, when deciding upon one of the more expensive majors, it would be in your best interest to do some deep thought and truly desire to make this your career path. That way you do not waste money in the beginning should you decide to change the focus of your coursework down the line.

Like mentioned previously, the cost for college rises when non-residency fees come into play. For those of you who are not familiar with this fee, non-residency means those who are not originally from that state. For example, if a student who grew up in California decided to attend school in another state such as Texas, they will be charged out of state fees. One of the main reasons for this is because as tax paying parents it is considered a tax break.

As a resident, paying taxes goes towards schools so for those children who do not live in the state, their parents have not paid taxes for the state in which they have chosen to leave and continue their education. In order to make up for this and not “get a free ride,” out of state students are charged additional fees. By going to a college in the state in which your parents pay taxes, it will save you money in the long run.

Attending junior college should also be something to considered when brainstorming how to save as much money as possible towards college. There is nothing wrong with attending a junior college during your first two years of higher education. Typically your first two years of school regardless of your major surrounds general education. Everyone takes the same gen-ed classes which include math, history, English, etc. So it really does not matter where you complete these courses at. The money saving tactic would be to complete these classes at a junior college, which typically cost half as much as a public four year.

College cost and funding does not have to be a stressful task. Like many things, as long as you plan early and weigh out all of your options choosing a college and figuring out where the money is going to come from can be a breeze. With all of the resources out there to help you in your planning you can easily be a part of the winning side rather than the unprepared and overwhelmed majority.