College acceptance letters are slowly starting to trickle in. Some of you may have already gotten a few. As March draws to a close, more and more of these acceptances will be coming in, causing a whirlwind of anxiety for many students. It's also a very exciting time. But college acceptance isn't all about the "Congratulations!" letters. Families also must be concerned with financing education. So, as those acceptance roll in, rememeber a few things:
- Compare costs. Sticker price of individual schools is just that--a sticker price. Many higher cost schools make up for the high tuition rate by offering more money in grants and loans. A student planning to attend Allegheny College recently was helped in covering his costs with a $15,000 scholarship, in fact.
- Look at the whole picture. Is the idea of attending a prestigious school the most important thing? If so, be prepared for associated costs. However, if attending a good school where a solid education is to be had is more important, consider that too. Even more, school reputation aside, which school's program is most appealing? It's all about personal fit at the core of things.
- Think about scholarship details. How long is a merit scholarship good for? A semester? A year? Many are one-year deals, but some are renewable. Find out if this is possible as well as any continuing eligibility requirements you will need to fulfill. Additionally, find out how eventual tuition increases will affect your scholarship award.
- Watch your loans. The recommended amount for any college student to borrow during all 4 (or sometimes 5) years of college is less than what their starting annual salary would be out of school. So, if a liberal arts student is only looking at making $20-30,000 annually, total loan debt shouldn't exceed this. After all, with interest, loan debt could wind up being difficult to pay.
- Appeal your financial aid. When those acceptance offers start coming in, so will their corresponding financial aid offers. In today's world, it is perfectly acceptable to appeal an inadequate offer. Students need to have financial aid that meets their needs, and this doesn't always happen. If you can make a case for a larger amount, i.e. parental job loss, contact the schools that you wish to receive better offers from.
Acceptance to college isn't black and white. Students and families have many considerations to look at during college selection. Ultimately, several financial factors come into play, some of which may even contradict each other. However, in the end, you must decide what's most important--prestige or affordability, good reputation or more interesting program, etc. Then again, choosing a school could even be as simple as visiting the campus...Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get there and it just feels like home!
For more college and financial aid solutions, contact Go Financial Aid.