And Off They Go
It is mid-July and we are almost ready to get into the 2021-2022 school year. That means that the seniors are making preparations for the next step in their lives. They are taking their SATs, filling out college applications, thinking of a trade school to attend, applying for financial aid, or even deciding to jump into the workforce. This is the first major decision they will make for themselves. With that being said, I wanted to provide my hindsight 20/20 and some additional information and tips to help with your decision-making process.
Patricia's Top 3 Hindsight 20/20 on College
1) Take your first 2 years of classes at a community college.
Pros: Why spend so much money on courses that do not count towards your major? Review the courses that are required at the college of your choice and take those English, Math, and etc. courses at your local community college for fraction of cost. Make sure the school of your choice accept those courses from your community college as well.
Cons: You miss out on building relationships within those first two years attending community college.
2) Stay in State! I know you to spread your wings and get as far as possible from your home town. You can still do that in-state.
Pros: Tuition is substantially lower when you attend in-state vs. out-of-state. According to data from CollegeBoard, the average college tuition at a public, four-year university for the 2019-2020 school year was $10,486 for in-state students, and $15,873 for out-of-state students. See below the average cost of in-state vs. out-of-state tuition for the 2019-2020 school by state.
Cons: The school of your choice isn't located in the state you reside in.
3) Fill out all of the scholarships you are eligible for. There is no pros or cons to this one. I wish I would have applied for more scholarships. I was so busy being a typical kid saying I didn't have time or it is going to take sooooo long. The infamous one was I DO NOT FEEL LIKE WRITING ANOTHER PARAGRAPH! It would have helped reduce my student loan burden.
Now that you heard my top 3 hindsight 20/20, let's talk about your financial options. I know everyone thinks that financial aid will carry the burden for those in lower/middle income families. You will be in for a rude awaking when you get your FASFA results back.
1) Scholarships: Offered by nonprofit and private organizations and is free money. Scholarships are typically based on academic merit, talent, or a particular area of study.
2) Grants: A form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid (with exceptions). A variety of federal grants are available, including Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants. There are also state grants that you can apply for as well.
3) Student Loans: There are several options when it comes student loans.
"Direct Subsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education at a college or career school.
Direct Unsubsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, but eligibility is not based on financial need.
Direct PLUS Loans are loans made to graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. Eligibility is not based on financial need, but a credit check is required. Borrowers who have an adverse credit history must meet additional requirements to qualify."
Private Loans are done outside of financial aid with one of your local banks, credit union or private company.
Note: Subsidized Loans do not accrue interest while the student is in college while Unsubsidized Loans accrues interest.
4) Work-Study Job: This is provided by the Federal Government which allows you to work a part-time job to pay for school.
Here are some additional tips to help with the cost of college:
GRADUATE ON TIME!: stay on top of your courses and make sure you are taking the right course load to graduate. I was student athlete and I couldn't take the 18-hour course load to be able to graduate on time. I took at least one class at my local community college each summer.
Dual Enrollment: see if you school offers courses that will transfer over to the college of your choice. You can also see if you able to take college courses at your community college while you're in high school.
Buy used textbooks: with the options that are out here today, this shouldn't be a problem.
Choose the right meal plan: they are typically use it or lose it. Make sure you have enough to survive the semester but not enough where you are buying a ton of stuff at the end of the semester.
Choose the right housing option: listen this will take your bill either up or down depending on where you stay (single vs. double, newer dorm vs. older dorm, on-campus vs. off-campus).
Hey Parents! Even though you may not have a graduating senior, here are some useful items for you as well. 2020 was the year of the pandemic babies so I want you to start preparing now.
529 college savings plans: "an investment account that offers tax benefits when used to pay for qualified education expenses for a designated beneficiary. You can use a 529 plan to pay for college, K-12 tuition, apprenticeship programs and student loan repayments. If using a 529 plan to save for college, your savings will have a minimal impact on financial aid eligibility." - savingforcollge.com
Prepaid Tuition Plans: "a college savings plan that allows you to pay for future college tuition at today's rate. You can purchase units or credits, either in a lump-sum payment or in regular installments. Then once your child is ready to attend school, the funds are made available to pay their eligible costs." - bankrate.com
Coverdell Education Savings Accounts: '"these accounts work very much like a 529 plan, offering tax-free investment growth and tax-free withdrawals when the funds are spent on qualified education expenses. However, in addition to college expenses, certain K-12 purchases are also considered qualified when using a Coverdell ESA." - savingforcollge.com
Per Forbes.com magazine, for a child born this year, this translates into monthly savings of $250 per month for an in-state 4-year public college, $450 per month for an out-of-state 4-year public college and $550 per month for a 4-year private college. Saving $250 a month from birth will yield more than $80,000 by the time the child enrolls in college.
So, start saving now!