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By Anne Purcell
It is never too early to start thinking about college planning. Costs are known to be high, and the thought of college tuition might feel overwhelming, even if college is still years away. We all hear the statistics about how college debt is rising and affecting students well after graduation. While spending some money for college is necessary, there are tactics you can take to help ease the financial burden.
College costs don't have to break the bank. While it might seem like you'll have to make financial sacrifices that will leave you with debt or major setbacks on other financial goals, this isn't necessarily true. Thinking about and planning for college costs early on can help you avoid rushing to make decisions and overpaying for a degree. With these tips, you can make financially savvy college decisions that work with your long-term goals.
In the end, whoever is taking on the bulk of the financial costs should have a more considerable say – since they have more to lose.
Instead of starting the college search based on advertisements sent to your home, college ranking lists or visiting a college fair, look at your budget and see where the funds for college will come from. Have the budget dictate which schools you look at before they fall in love with an institution that may be out of that range.
While college costs are high and some colleges have high rejection rates, attending a good school without those burdens is possible. Further, most colleges offer discounts, and many students don't pay the total price tag for higher education.
While some schools, usually the most elite, are harder to get into and have substantially higher costs, many others are pushing to get students to attend and have admissions goals they struggle to meet. Looking at schools outside the most elite can help avoid overpaying, and you may find discounts within other schools to help decrease the overall financial burden. Still, don’t discount a school because of its sticker price. For example, Harvard meets 100% of students’ need-based aid, despite having a high annual tuition.
When looking at different colleges, here are four things you should focus on that will factor into what schools will make the most sense:
There are four types of financial aid: grants, scholarships, loans and other borrowing options. Some types do not need to be repaid, while others do. Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for some financial aid, such as grants like the Pell Grant. If you don't qualify for need-based financial aid, you can look into other merit-based options, such as school or community scholarships, to help decrease overall education costs.
Planning for college funding early can help decrease the stress and pressure when making those final college decisions. To learn more, check out this webinar on the topic or the following blog articles:
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