The price tag on college is not cheap and when I am deciding between schools where tuition and room and board alone ranges from $18,000 to $43,000, costs are most definitely an important factor in my decision.
It doesn’t matter how much bacon my parents bring home (not literally, of course), they can’t just leisurely throw out 40 grand for me for school, nor should they. Am I going to take school as seriously if my parents just pay for it all? Of course not, it’s all mental. If I know I have debt to pay, I will work hard to make sure the money spent is well worth it. If someone just pays my way for me, I probably wouldn’t take it as seriously.
That being said, I also don’t want to graduate with tens of thousands of dollars to pay off in loans. I know I’m going to have to owe some money, but the smaller the burden, the happier I will be. Being buried in debt and having a headache as big as Texas right off the bat is not what I’m aiming for.
It’s a complicated issue because as states continue to cut the amount of money they give to colleges, the number of students enrolling is growing.
According to this website, states have decreased money given by about 17 percent over just the past five years, while student enrollment has increased 12 percent. So obviously, what must colleges do? Why, increase the cost of attending, of course! Tuition and fees alone rose almost five percent in just this year.
And don’t think it’s just the public universities – private colleges have to make up for increased expenses, too. Even when majority of students receive scholarships and grants, the average private college student will pay approximately $27,600 (a 6 percent increase from last year).
Uhm, this is a problem, especially when I’m deciding between public and private universities.
The key thing, future college hopefuls, is the lovely word: scholarships. Free money? I’ll take it!
While I have also received a good amount of money from all the schools I applied to, thanks to my grades (they DO matter), it still doesn’t cover enough. Thanks to a great website, Zinch.com, I receive weekly e-mails on scholarships that match me, based on my GPA, gender, desired major, etc. The guidance office in my school has lists of available scholarships for students. Elkhart Memorial even gives scholarships to students who meet certain requirements, such as great GPAs, participating in sports or different clubs or achieving certain scores on tests.
I’ve only applied for a handful of scholarships so far (Yeah, I know, I’m working on it), but they all ask for about the same thing. What activities I’ve participated in, awards I’ve received, test scores, grades, classes I take, family income, etc. The focus, though, is definitely what makes me stand out and what makes me deserving of the money. So, it goes to show you that working hard and being involved really does have its benefits in the end.
The most important thing is just research. There are scholarships EVERYWHERE, if you take the time and look for them. That’s something I’m really focusing on currently, as I need to begin realizing what I can and cannot afford.
It doesn’t matter if I choose a school that’s $20,000 or $40,000; it’s about how I make the experience. The price tag doesn’t always mean it has any better quality. I am the one in the end who makes it worth the money when I take every opportunity given to me in those four years. However, saving as much money as I can makes the whole journey that much better, which is why scholarships and grants are super important.
Dealing with money hasn’t always been my strong point, but it’s something I’ll have to learn to deal with the rest of my life – especially when turning the next page.